• Sun
  • Apr 20, 2014
  • Updated: 5:20pm

Xi Jinping orders 'all-out' effort to rescue Antarctic exploration ship

President urges 101 people on board Chinese icebreaker to stay calm after it became trapped following rescue from icebound Russian vessel

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 6:23am

President Xi Jinping has ordered "all-out efforts" to save 101 people aboard an icebreaker trapped after going to the rescue of a Russian ship stuck in heavy floes in Antarctica.

The Xue Long, or the Snow Dragon, was the nation's pride on Thursday after its helicopter ferried dozens of stranded passengers from Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy to safety aboard an Australian icebreaker .

But the ship itself became trapped and could not break free the next day.

Xi yesterday praised the Chinese expedition team aboard Xue Long and said they had accomplished the rescue mission under tremendous risks and brought honour to China, according to Xinhua.

The president asked those on board to "remain calm" and ordered "all-out" efforts to help them out of danger.

Xinhua last night said the State Oceanic Administration had set up a special task force to lead and co-ordinate the new rescue mission.

Those trapped on the Xue Long include crew members, scientists and journalists.

The ship was locked in a heavy floe area, some 21 kilometres from the nearest ice-free waters, Xinhua said. It quoted journalists aboard the vessel of saying that the ship had enough supplies to last until April.

The ship's passage has been blocked by a drifting, one kilometre-long iceberg since Friday. Its captain Wang Jiangzhong told Xinhua that they would only try to break out after the iceberg moved away.

But tidal conditions are extremely complex and the positions of the iceberg and ice floes are changing rapidly.

State broadcaster CCTV said last night that a strong cyclone is possible and it could help the vessel break free as early as next week. It said crew members were planning a table tennis game to lift their mood.

The setback, however, would not dampen China's ambitions in Antarctic exploration.

China announced soon after the incident that the country will build a new icebreaker that is "far more technologically advanced and bigger than the current one".

Qu Tanzhou, head of the Antarctic office under the State Oceanic Administration, told China Radio International yesterday that the new icebreaker would enter service in two or three years and would be "one of the most advanced in the world".

Xue Long, built in Ukraine in 1993, was a cargo ship until it was converted to a polar research ship. It is China's only icebreaking vessel.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority yesterday also confirmed there was no immediate danger to people on board the Chinese vessel, adding in a statement that Akademik Shokalskiy and Xue Long could assist each other if necessary.

It also said Aurora Australis, the Australian vessel carrying the rescued passengers, had continued to make its passage to the Casey base to renew supplies before returning to Australia.

Additional reporting by AFP



This article is now closed to comments

Chinese empty boasting is just that, empty!
All is not lost for the crew, American Coast Guard Cutter is on its way from Sydney and will rescue the crew very soon. US does not brag about its mission, as it's only a part of the job. Saving others is a duty and a call for nationalistic revelry.
This is just about ships trapped in Antarctic ice, not nationalism or politics.
The history of Ernest Shackleton's expedition is a monument to human courage and survival. The people in the icebreakers should read it and count their blessings. They have shelter, warmth, food
and relative safety. They will have real problems if they are still trapped when the Winter comes on.
SCMP lost in translation....(a good demonstration of the 2 steps flow in communication theory)
when I looked at the Chinese version of what President Xi has said, it did not carry the meaning of "all out", Xi only requested " all relevant departments to cooperate and coordinate to help the crew to get out of of situation safely and quickly.." .
When SCMP readers have read the original version by President Xi in Chinese, they should not have made some of the comments which are posted here.
This fact might have disappointed those Chinese Bashers, Sorry !
You can hardly blame commenters or labelling as China bashers just because they react to the words printed in front of them in black & white, critical or otherwise. Perhaps if the translation had been as you have said, then maybe it wouldn't have been a story at all.
plenty of food & drink left but they're running low on cigarettes hence the prioritising of the rescue mission
So the Chinese government brag a bit about what they did, big deal, why all these criticism?
Many people are being biasd against the Chinese government and critize everything single thing they do regardless good or bad. We should be fair and objective and look at what they do and not who they are.
Yes, the communist regime made many mistakes and did terrible things in the past, no doubt about that, but we need to look forward. The reality is, this regime is in power, ruling the most populous nation in the world and an important international player. We should be glad to see China learning to be a mature and responsible government.
Holding CCP's past and critizing everything China does is not going to help, and it is not fair. The Japanese never apologize for what they did in WWII, I don't see people being over critical against the Japanese government. I wonder why...
Sure be nice to know what some of the nerds commenting here are doing for a living.
Be thankful for what you have. Every place on Earth has flaws. Even if you had a lot of wealth and tried to have everything perfect, I guarantee that there would still be things which upset, annoy, and unsettle you. In fact there might be more of them.
Be thankful for what you have. If you live in a place where you have a warm roof over your head and good food, a good community of caring people, that is the most in life.
Every government is different. But we have to believe that ultimate people care and are trying their best to do the right things.
No one is perfect either. We are all humans and life is short and we should help and care for one another during our time on this Earth.
This is nothing more than a cry for attention from China's president. "Look what I'm doing!", he so desperately cries out.



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