Nightly News   |  January 02, 2014

Antarctica Passengers Freed After Days of Being Stranded

More than 50 passengers from a Russian research ship were airlifted to safety after ice stranded their vessel. NBC’s Martin Fletcher reports.

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>>> the weather finally cleared in antarctica and that meant more than 50 passengers caught in the ice aboard the russian research ship could be air lifted out by helicopter. for them that ended a nine-day ordeal that's been followed around the world. we get the latest on the trek from nbc's martin fletcher .

>> reporter: rescue drama at the end of the world . a chinese helicopter drops off scientists rescued from the trapped ship and returns to pick up the rest.

>> the first of the helicopters to take us home.

>> thanks, everyone.

>> reporter: few clouds, low winds, perfect helicopter weath weather. after five hours all 52 passengers, scientists and tourists were with ferried to safety, a dozen at a time. they were stuck nine days, since christmas eve . a late christmas present flown to an australian ice breaker .

>> welcome aboard .

>> hello! thank you. we're happy to see you guys.

>> reporter: next stop, tasmania for another two weeks, leaving their ship stuck with its 22 crew staying on board and a chinese ice breaker nearby, also stuck this the ice calling for help. from the start it was an adventure driven by social media . you can't even get lost in antarctica t without the world watching. these explorers were all over the internet. on skype, twitter, youtube, vine.

>> hopefully we'll hear about the evacuation soon.

>> reporter: compare it to douglas morrison a hundred years ago whose expedition the scientists were retracing. after a tragic accident he missed the boat home and had to wait a year to be rescued. today's explorers were choppered out after nine days with their luggage. on social media now -- questions. why did this group get stuck in the first place? was it worth it? martin fletcher , nbc news, london.