Plane to drop off medication for stranded passengers

The crew of a Chinese icebreaker that had provided the helicopter said they were worried about their own ship's ability to move through the ice. Photo / AP
The crew of a Chinese icebreaker that had provided the helicopter said they were worried about their own ship's ability to move through the ice. Photo / AP

A plane will drop medication off at an Australian base in Antarctica for some of the passengers who were stranded for eight days on a research vessel in thick sea ice.

Fifty-two passengers, including six New Zealanders, have been flown by helicopter off the stricken Russian research ship Akademik Shokalskiy to Australian boat Aurora Australis. The Russian ship became stuck about 3000 kilometres southwest of Bluff on Christmas Day.

The rescue chopper belonged to Chinese ship, the Xue Long, which has now notified authorities of concerns about its ability to move through the area's heavy ice.

A crew member on board the Aurora Australis said the ship was out of the sea ice and making its way to Casey Station, a permanent base in Antarctica managed by the Australian Antarctic Division.

He said some of the passengers required medications which would be flown to Casey Station. He would not expand on what the medications were but said everybody on board was "fine''.

The last he had head the Xue Long was still stuck in thick ice.

The scientific team, led by scientists from the University of New South Wales, had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's 1911 to 1913 voyage to Antarctica when they became stuck. They had set out from Bluff on November 28.

The six New Zealanders are ornithologist Kerry-Jayne Wilson, University of Auckland doctoral student Colin Tan, historians John and Barbara Tucker, and two chefs

- APNZ

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