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Antarctic Icebreaker Aurora Australis Refloated After Running Aground

by Alexander Smith /

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An icebreaker that ran aground in an Antarctic blizzard was successfully refloated Friday, officials said.

The Australian vessel Aurora Australis was carrying 68 expeditioners and crew when it hit rocks and breached its hull in Antarctica's Horseshoe Harbour on Wednesday.

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Thirty-seven of those on board were transferred in several barge trips to the nearby Mawson research station, the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) said.

The rest of those on board the P&O Maritime ship stayed behind to get the vessel back into open water. And at 2 p.m. local time (4 a.m. ET) the ADD announced the vessel had been successfully refloated.

The hull breach was in a section of the boat usually flooded with ballast water, and there was no threat to the vessel's stability, the ADD added.

A specialist U.S. Lockheed LC-130 ski plane was scheduled Saturday to collect a separate group of explorers the stricken icebreaker had been set to pick up.

The group of 30 will be flown from Davis to Casey research stations, both run by Australia, where they will be flown home by the Australian Antarctic Division's A319 Airbus.

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