1. Update — Jan. 7, 10:10 p.m. ET:
The Russian research ship stuck in the ice in Antarctica for two weeks has finally broken free, officials confirmed Wednesday.
The Chinese icebreaker that went to the aid of the 52 passengers stuck aboard the stranded Akademik Shokalskiy in Antarctica was freed from the frozen ice hours earlier.
The Chinese ship provided the helicopter used to rescue the stranded passengers and airlift them to safety aboard the icebreaker Aurora Australis. The Aurora is now carrying the crew to the Australian island state Tasmania.
Despite the Chinese vessel becoming stuck in the heavy ice, the Aurora resumed its journey home Saturday after initially being told to stay in the area in case the ship needed additional help.
“The Master of Xue Long has confirmed to AMSA that the ship is safe, it is not in distress and does not require assistance at this time,” Australian officials said. “There is no immediate danger to personnel on board the Xue Long. The Xue Long has advised AMSA it has food supplies for several weeks.”
2. The 52 scientists and tourists stranded on the ice-bound research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy have finally been rescued.
4. All 52 passengers are reportedly now on board the Aurora Australis.
BBC Breaking News
All 52 passengers on ship stuck on Antarctic ice have now been rescued http://t.co/5rJsiwQckO
We’ve made it to the Aurora Australis. Via a v big helicopter from Xue Long. Thank you to everyone who has helped w this amazing operation
Our wonderful new home - the Aurora Australis (seen from our Chinese rescue helicopter) via @loztopham for @guardian
It’s reported that the 22 crew members will remain on board the vessel.
9. Earlier this morning, a Chinese helicopter first began ferrying people from the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, and then to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.
First passengers from Shoklakiy have taken off, now on their way to Aurora Australis
Take off! second team gone. Looking good. #spiritofmawson Alok Jha
12. The ship has been stranded in the ice since Christmas Eve.
All previous rescue attempts by China’s Xue Long, Australia’s Aurora Australis, and the French-flagged L’Astrolabe all failed because of the thickness of the ice.
13. This is China’s stuck icebreaker, Xue Long, as seen from the deck of the Aurora Australis.
14. The airlift reportedly took around five hours, as it takes 45 minutes to fly back to the Xue Long, and at least five flights were needed.
15. Everyone is obviously very excited and grateful to be headed home.
The first of the helicopters to take us home. Thanks everyone! #spiritofmawson Alok Jha
To the crew of Aurora Australis + Xue Long - heartfelt thanks from all on the Shokalskiy. We know how far out of your way you all went (1/2)
…and at a time you had a lot of other, more important, work to do. Truly appreciated. Thank you. (2/2)
18. Although we’ll miss their delightful updates from Antarctica, such as this one.
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