SYDNEY, December 26, 2013 (AFP) – Three icebreaking ships were Thursday hurrying to reach a Russian vessel carrying 74 people on a scientific expedition which is trapped by ice off Antarctica, with Australian authorities coordinating the rescue mission. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the MV Akademik Shokalskiy sent a distress message on Wednesday to say it was stuck about 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont D’Urville.
“The ship was starting to head out (to the open ocean) when the blizzard hit,” expedition spokesman Alvin Stone told AFP.
“It’s just stuck in ice. There’s no danger at all.”
The ship is in the Australian search and rescue region, prompting authorities to issue a broadcast to icebreaking vessels in the area and three with icebreaking capability have responded.
The three, which include the Australian Antarctic Division’s Aurora Australis, are en route to the area with a Chinese-flagged vessel expected to reach the trapped ship first late Friday.
AMSA said the mission to reach the ship could be difficult.
“It’s quite windy and there could be some sort of blizzard conditions,” Andrea Hayward-Maher told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“Weather conditions, if they