January 2nd, 2014
09:34 AM ET

Dozens of Passengers Rescued From Ship Trapped in Antarctic Ice

A helicopter rescued dozens of passengers Thursday from a ship trapped in ice off Antarctica after a string of failed attempts.

Of the 52 passengers trapped, 48 were ferried to an Australian vessel that will eventually take them out of Antarctic waters, said Australian authorities, who are coordinating the rescue efforts.

"It's 100% we're off! A huge thanks to all," tweeted Chris Turney, an Australian professor among the group of scientists, journalists and tourists stranded on the ship for more than a week.

A helicopter from a nearby Chinese icebreaker ferried the dozens of passengers. The remaining four are expected to arrive on the Australian ship in a series of back-and-forth journeys.

The rescue is the latest chapter in a saga that began Christmas Eve after the Russian-flagged MV Akademik Shokalskiy got stuck in unusually thick ice.

Officials abandoned a succession of other rescue attempts in recent days because of the treacherous conditions in the region.

Earlier Thursday, Australian authorities had said a plan involving the helicopter and a barge was put on hold because of shifting ice conditions.

But the new approach, which skipped the use of the barge, got under way later in the day. Turney posted videos showing the helicopter arriving on a makeshift helipad on the ice near the trapped ship and taking off into the crisp blue sky.

See more at CNN.com

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