South Korea's icebreaker ARAON came to the assistance of researchers stranded after China's icebreaker Xuelong hit an iceberg on January 19. (Photo: IC)
On Thursday, South Korea's polar icebreaker ARAON rescued all 24 members of the crew of China's icebreaker Xuelong after it was stranded following a collision with an iceberg on January 19, according to Yonhap News Agency.
No injuries were caused by the collision.
Temporary structures on the island were sufficient to keep the crew warm, but their daily necessities were due to run out at the beginning of February. Because it's the middle of the Antarctic summer, their sea ice airstrip is melting. And rescue ships from China's fleet were 10 days away.
Given the lack of options available, China requested assistance from the ARAON, which was in the Ross Sea and was able to rush to the site of the accident to rescue the crew.
As there is no docking facility on-site, the ARAON is on standby about 700 away from the Xuelong, and South Korea dispatched a helicopter to extract members of the stranded crew.
ARAON will deliver the crew to Littleton Harbor in New Zealand on February 4, before returning to Jang Bogo Station in Terra Nova Bay, one of South Korea's two permanent research stations in Antarctica. It will then collect 48 members of their own expedition team.