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Russian passenger vessel rescue operation complete, says AMSA

6 January 2014

The rescue operation of the Russian passenger vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy has been completed, according to the Australian maritime safety authority's (AMSA) rescue coordination centre (RCC Australia).

The vessel first sent a satellite distress signal to the UK's Falmouth Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) on 25 December 2013, after becoming trapped in ice approximately 1,500nm south of Hobart. There were 74 people on board, including 22 crew members.

As the ship was stranded in the Australian search and rescue region 100nm east of the French base Dumont D'Urville, MRCC contacted AMSA's RCC Australia for the rescue operations.

Following the call, RCC Australia sent three ships with ice-breaking capabilities to the area, including the Australian Antarctic division vessel Aurora Australis.

A helicopter from the Xue Long air-lifted passengers, luggage and equipment from the vessel on to the Aurora Australis. RCC Australia confirmed that all the 52 passengers were safely transfered.

The 22 crew members of Akademik Shokalskiy remained with the vessel.

RCC Australia has requested the US coast guard's Polar Star ice-breaker to assist the vessels MV Akademik Shokalskiy and Xue Long that are stuck in the ice.