An Australian icebreaker on Monday suspended efforts to reach an icebound research ship carrying 74 people in the Antarctic because of adverse weather.
The Aurora Australis turned back after making it to within 10 nautical miles of the research ship Akademik Shokalskiy, which has not moved since sending out a distress signal on Christmas, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.
"The area where the MV Akademik Shokalskiy is beset by ice is currently experiencing winds of up to 30 knots and snow showers," the maritime authority said Monday. "These weather conditions have resulted in poor visibility and made it difficult and unsafe for the Aurora Australis to continue. ... Further attempts may be made by the vessel in due course to undertake the rescue once weather conditions improve."
Rescue efforts may focus on the nearby Chinese icebreaker the Xue Long, which carries a helicopter that could be used to lift passengers and crew off the Akademik Shokalskiy. However, the weather is delaying any such effort.
"At this time, it is also unsafe to attempt to launch the helicopter from the Chinese vessel," the maritime society said.
The people on the research ship are in regular contact with Australian authorities. They are reported to be in good spirits and have supplies for several weeks.
The leader of the expedition, Professor Chris Turney, spoke on "New Day" Monday and said "Everyone's doing really well, I'm incredibly proud of them all. They've been holding together really incredibly – looking after one another, people are dealing with the issues in their own unique ways, of course, but ultimately it's an amazingly supportive group so we're just taking each day, and sometimes each hour, as it comes."
You can follow the boat at SpiritofMawson.com.