Icebreakers speed toward stranded ship in Antarctica

LOS ANGELES -- Three icebreakers are speeding to rescue a ship carrying tourists and researchers that is trapped in thick ice in Antarctica. The ship has been stuck since Tuesday about 1,700 miles south of New Zealand.

Passengers and crew aboard the research ship Akademik Shokalskiy have had to endure fierce Antarctic conditions the last two days: temperatures well below zero and winds approaching 50 miles per hour.

 

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Chris Turney
CBS News
 Australian climate scientist Christ Turney is filing video updates from the distressed vessel at the bottom of the earth.

"The vessel hasn’t moved for the last two days," Turney says. "We're surrounded by sea ice and we just can't get through."

The ship left New Zealand Nov. 28 on a month-long scientific expedition. Seventy-four scientists, tourists, journalists and crew are studying Antarctica's wildlife and waters. Turney is leading the expedition.

They were retracing the steps of Australian explorer Douglas Mawson, who made the trek in 1911. But as they traveled on toward the magnetic South Pole, the sea ice thickened. Three weeks into the trip, they were locked in ice.

 

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The Akademik Shokalskiy has been stranded since Dec. 24.
The Guardian
 Conditions worsened outside, with a blizzard bearing down on the ship. Inside, researchers and crew are able to keep warm and have plenty of provisions.

"We've got a couple of weeks' worth of fresh food, and on top of that, if things get really bad, we've got two weeks of glorious dehydrated food," Turney said in a Skype interview with CBS News.

Turney tweeted some good news Thursday: the blizzard has passed, and while they're waiting to be rescued, the scientists are continuing their research. When explorer Douglas Mawson made the trek just over 100 years ago, he was stranded for two years.

  • Bill Whitaker

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