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First passengers board rescue helicopter in Antarctica

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First passengers from Shoklakiy have taken off, now on their way to Aurora Australis http://t.co/PS4uOndHX4

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EXCLUSIVE: First picture of Chinese helicopter evacuation of Akademik Shokalskiy via @loztopham for @guardian http://t.co/9WEFChFy0K

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Rescue helicopter arrives at stranded Antarctic ship

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The Chinese helicopter has arrived @ the Shokalskiy. It's 100% we're off! A huge thanks to all. http://t.co/UcmHMaO2Gd #spiritofmawson

A Chinese rescue helicopter has arrived to rescue passengers from a ship trapped in ice at the Antarctic, a passenger has said.

Expedition leader Professor Chris Turney tweeted a helicopter had arrived to rescue the 74 passengers on board.

Fifty two scientists, journalists and tourists, along with 22 crew members, have been trapped in sea ice on the Akademik Shokalskiy since Christmas Eve.

Read more: Bid to rescue trapped Antarctic passengers thwarted

Bid to rescue trapped Antarctic passengers thwarted

The latest attempt to airlift passengers in a research ship trapped in Antarctic ice for more than a week has been delayed again after sea ice prevented a barge from reaching one of the rescue vessels.

A helicopter was expected to airlift passengers to Chinese icebreaker the Snow Dragon, and a barge would then ferry them to a nearby Australian vessel.

The Academic Shokalskiy has been unable to move since Christmas day, when thick sheets of ice blocked it in.

But before the operation could begin, sea ice blocked the path of the barge that needed to make it from the Australian vessel, the Aurora Australis, to the Snow Dragon.

The setback comes after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Co-ordination Centre claimed the weather conditions had improved and rescue flights were likely to begin.

Expedition leader Chris Turney had earlier described a "stunning day" in a video posted on his Twitter account.

Watch: Antarctic scientists hail new year with a song

Antarctica ship 'trapped by a huge breakout'

The Antarctic expedition leader whose ship has been stranded in ice for over a week wrote on Twitter:

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Rain all day but ice remains thick. Looks like we've been trapped by a huge breakout. #spiritofmawson Alok Jha https://t.co/bdGvwXRhvn

Read: Russian ship stranded off Antarctica: Latest updates

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Crew of stranded Antarctic vessel prepare for rescue

The crew of a research vessel that has become trapped in ice in Antarctica have uploaded this video showing them preparing to be rescued by helicopter.

They can be heard singing 'Auld Lang Syne' as they stamp down the snow near the ship to make it easier for the helicopter to land:

Read: Antarctica passengers await 'clear weather window'

Antarctica passenger: Case of 'hurry up and wait'

An oceanographer awaiting rescue on a Russian ship trapped in ice off Antarctica said it is a case of "hurry up and wait" on the vessel.

Erik van Sebille said in a video diary, "Everything must be ready to go as soon as possible [in case of a successful rescue attempt], but in the meantime it's a lot of waiting here".

The 74 passengers on the MV Akademik Shokalskiy are pinning their hopes on a helicopter rescue after three icebreakers failed to reach the paralysed vessel.

However, the helicopter must wait for a break in the weather before it can attempt a rescue, and conditions are not expected to improve before tomorrow.

Russian ship stranded off Antarctica: Latest updates

Antarctica passengers await 'clear weather window'

Passengers on board the Russian ship stranded off Antarctica are awaiting a "clear weather window" so they can be rescued by helicopter:

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Aurora can't make it through. Looks like we're going to be helicoptered out. Just need a clear weather window. Raining! #spiritofmawson

Russian ship stranded off Antarctica: Latest updates

Antarctic passengers 'to be evacuated by helicopter'

Russia has said that most of the 74 passengers and crew stranded on a ship off Antarctica will be evacuated by a Chinese helicopter, AFP reported.

"A decision has been reached to evacuate 52 passengers and four crew members by helicopter from China's Xue Long ship, should the weather allow," the news agency reported, citing a Russian foreign ministry statement.

The Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy has been stuck since Christmas Eve Credit: AUSTRALASIAN ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION/FOOTLOOSE

Earlier today, an Australian icebreaker's bid to reach Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy was thwarted by poor visibility after a blizzard.

Russian ship stranded off Antarctica: Latest updates

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