Science

Two Icebreakers Stuck in Antarctic Ice Are Now Free

The Akademik Shokalskiy and the Snow Dragon

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A Russian research ship at the center of an Antarctic rescue drama has broken free from heavy pack ice two weeks after it became trapped, officials confirmed on Wednesday, hours after a Chinese icebreaker that became trapped while trying to help the Akademik Shokalskiy also freed itself and was heading for open waters.

The Akademik Shokalskiy had been trapped in ice-clogged Commonwealth Bay since Christmas Eve, while the Chinese ship that came to its rescue, Xue Long, or Snow Dragon in Chinese, reported last week it too was stuck.

But the Snow Dragon was able to use its helicopter to retrieve 52 scientists, journalists and tourists from the Russian ship. They are now on their way home aboard an Australian icebreaker, Aurora Australis.