An Australian "icebreaker" ship has inched closer to a Russian vessel stranded in ice near Antarctica, but its rescue effort has been hampered by poor weather, officials said.
The Aurora Australis is currently about 11 nautical miles (20 kms) from the stranded Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy, said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which is co-ordinating the rescue.
Snow showers and poor visibility have slowed the Aurora Australis' bid to rescue the Akademik Shokalskiy, which became trapped in ice on Christmas Eve with 74 people on board.
AMSA had earlier expected the Aurora Australis to arrive at the scene Sunday evening.
The leader of an expedition to the Antarctic has said morale is good despite the group’s ship being trapped in ice since Tuesday.
In a Skype interview, he told ITV News: “Morale is holding up really quite well actually. We’ve been keeping everyone busy...
“Each individual is dealing with it in their own unique way but overall I couldn’t be more pleased with team spirit.”
The expedition leader of an Antarctic mission has posted footage from the stranded ship. The Academic Shokalskiy has been unable to move since Christmas day, when thick sheets of ice blocked it in.
Seventy-four people remain stuck aboard a ship trapped in freezing waters in Antarctica, after an icebreaker boat, sent to free them, had to abort its rescue mission.
The Academic Shokalskiy has been unable to move since Christmas day, when thick sheets of ice blocked it in.
Neil Connery reports on the latest attempts to rescue the ship
A Chinese icebreaker that was on its way to rescue a ship trapped in Antarctic ice was forced to turn back after being unable to push its way through the heavy sea ice.
The Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been on a research expedition to Antarctica, got stuck on Tuesday after a blizzard's winds pushed sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place.
Expedition leader Chris Turney said Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon was still in sight, but it is now waiting for another icebreaker to help it break through ice.
"It's about seven nautical miles away, but it's basically waiting now for one of the other icebreaker vessels, the Australian vessel Aurora Australis to come and help support. Together the two, we're hoping, will be able to break in," Mr Turney told Sky News.
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The principal investigator of the Lake Ellsworth drilling mission, Professor Martin Siegert, has said he and the team are "extremely disappointed" to have called off the mission.
He said that drilling was proceeding slower than expected and that there would not have been enough fuel to continue.
He added: "We must remember that the scientific reasons to do this work remain compelling".