UPDATE: All 52 passengers of the German ship Akademik Shokalskiy have been rescued and have been taken via helicopter to Australia ship Aurora Australis, the Australian Marine Safety Authority, in charge of the operation, has confirmed.
Aurora Australis has advised AMSA that the 52 passengers from the Akademik Shokalskiy are now on board.
— AMSA News (@AMSA_News) January 2, 2014
A Chinese helicopter has finally landed on Antarctic ice, rescuing passengers stuck on German Icebreaker boat, Akademik Shokalskiy.
In a picture posted by the Twitter account ‘Antarctica Live’, the helicopter from Chinese boat Xue Long, which is in the area, shows the first evacuations from the boat, which has been stranded since Christmas Day.
— Antarctica Live (@GdnAntarctica) January 2, 2014
There have been several failed attempts of rescuing around fifty passengers on board already, and one of those earlier today (local time). Several recent attempts were abandoned due to poor weather conditions.
The evacuation is continuing and will take several hours. Experts in Antarctic science told the Australian media today that it could be up to mid-January when the passengers finally get onto solid ground in Australia.
It is not yet known what will happen to the icebreaker. Icebreakers are typically designed to cut through ice floes of 1.35 metres, but due to the thick ice built up around the boat, it is still stuck.
This is a breaking news story, please check back for further updates.