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Argentine Ice Breaker Leaves for Rescue Attempt - 2002-06-26

A ship made to break through thick ice has left Argentina on a journey to what could be a daring rescue. The vessel is on its way to Antarctica to reach over a hundred men on a ship that is trapped by ice.

Argentine Navy officials say the 5,000 mile journey through frozen waters could be as dangerous for the rescuers as for the 107 people they are trying to rescue.

Early Tuesday morning the Almirante Irizar left Buenos Aires. It is on its way to the bottom of the world, where 79 Russian scientists and a crew of 28 sailors are stranded.

The ship carrying them left northeast Antarctica two weeks ago but could not make it through waters filled with drifting ice.

The Argentine icebreaker sent to the rescue can break through ice as thick as 25 meters. But the voyage will be a challenge. With hundreds of tons of fuel and supplies, the icebreaker could also become trapped.

Argentine sailors plan to work with South Africans and Swedes, without much light, and in extreme cold.

Even if all goes well, the trip to the rescue point will take the Argentines two weeks.