The Russian scientific mission ship, trapped in dense pack ice off East Antarctica since Christmas Day, is close to being rescued as Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon nears.
The crew can see the Snow Dragon icebreaker, which will try to cut a path through the ice allowing the research vessel to reach open water.
The Akademik Shokalskiy ship has 74 on board and is being used by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition.
They are following the route explorer Douglas Mawson travelled a century ago.
One of the leaders of the expedition, Chris Turney, tweeted an image of the Snow Dragon icebreaker on the horizon as it approached the ship.
The Chinese icebreaker – twice the length of the Shokalskiy – may ask for assistance from two other boats, the French vessel L’Astrolabe and Australia’s Aurora Australis.
The research ship was trapped by thick sheets of ice that were driven by strong winds about 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart – the capital of the Australian state of Tasmania.
There had also been fears that blizzards could hamper the rescue effort
The Shokalskiy is well stocked with food and is in no danger, according to the team.
Although trapped for the moment, the scientists are continuing their experiments. They have been measuring temperature and salinity through cracks in the surrounding ice.
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