Antarctica sea passengers stranded in ice are finally being freed

Passengers aboard a Russian research ship that’s been stuck in Antarctica ice for more than a week were finally getting rescued on Thursday, as a helicopter mission began airlifting them to the safety of a nearby vessel.

Weather conditions, including blizzard winds and snow, thwarted previous attempts to rescue the dozens aboard the Akademik Shokalski. But the weather has cleared enough that officials with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Rescue Coordination Centre gave the go-ahead and started flying out passengers, said expedition leader Chris Turney, in The Associated Press.

The first group touched down at the Aurora Australia vessel Thursday, to much cheer.

“I think everyone is relieved and excited to be going on to the Australian icebreaker and then home,” Mr. Turney said, in the AP report.

Plans are for the helicopter to cart the stranded passengers, a dozen at a time, in an operation that will span about five hours. But not all are abandoning ship: The 22 crew members have decided to stay on their stuck craft, until the ship can be freed, AP reported.

Those rescued will head to the island state of Tasmania, AP reported.

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