Nightly News   |  December 28, 2013

Stranded ship in Antarctic awaits new rescue plan

With three ice-breakers failing to reach the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, the crew and passengers of the ice-trapped vessel in the Antarctic are waiting to see if two other ships can free them or whether a helicopter rescue is necessary. NBC’s Martin Fletcher reports.

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>>> thick ice still has a scientific research vessel in its grip if antarctica. just as frustrating has been the effort by several countries to get that ship free. nbc's martin fletcher reports how breaking the ice is harder than it seems.

>> reporter: they've been stuck in eastern antarctica since christmas eve . today team leader chris tourney still has his sense of humor.

>> the shocking movement of choir practice , i hope we get out soon.

>> reporter: it isn't looking great. the choice niece ice breaker "snow dragon" can't get through, blocked seven miles away by ice ten feet thick. a french icebreaker turned away with a faulty engine. two more icebreakers or the way to help, a web cam showing their progress. the first won't arrive until sunday night at the earliest, if it gets through. the scientists on board the trapped ship are keeping themselves busy with experiments. while their families back home hope to see them safe soon. will tourney is the team leader 's brother. how does he look?

>> he looks tired. we're all obviously concerned. but very proud of him and know that he will make it home.

>> reporter: wind depends on the weather, especially the wind which packs the ice even more densely, making it harder to free the ship. forecasts show a cyclone on the way. but then average wind speed here throughout the year is an icy 30 miles an hour. winds so strong the plan b evacuation by "snow dragon's" helicopter also depends on a break in the weather . the passengers and crew have enough fresh food for two weeks and dehydrated food for a lot longer. their main challenge, boredom. their only company, the few curious fellows getting closer and closer. marvin fletcher, nbc news, london.