The Chinese icebreaker that sent a helicopter to rescue passengers aboard a Russian ship trapped in Antarctica is now stuck itself, Australian authorities said Saturday.
But the situation isn't dire, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said: The Xue Long reported there was no immediate danger to the vessel and it had several weeks of food on board.
The Xue Long, which means Snow Dragon, had moved in close to send a helicopter to the Russian vessel Akademik Shokalskiy, which got stuck on Christmas Eve about 1,700 miles south of Hobart, Tasmania. Attempts by the Xue Long and an Australian icebreaker, the Aurora Australis, to reach the Russian ship to help it break free had failed and the helicopter rescue had been delayed several times.
But on Thursday, the weather relented enough to whisk the 52 passengers from the Russian ship to safety, then transfer them to the Aurora Australis. The crew of the Russian ship remained on board in hopes that the ship would eventually be freed.
The Xue Long reported Friday that it might be stuck, and a maneuver to try to break free early Saturday failed, the maritime authority said.
The Aurora Australis had been hovering nearby in case help was needed but on Saturday was released from that duty. It will carry the Akademik Shokalskiy's passengers to Australia's Casey Station in Antarctica for resupply, then proceed to Hobart, the maritime authority said.