Aurora Australis rescue: Tourists on Antarctic ship trapped in ice for six days - and counting - after third effort to reach them fails

The MV Akademik Shokalskiy has been stuck since Christmas Eve

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The Independent Online

A third attempt to recuse 74 people from a Russian ship trapped in Antarctica since Tuesday has failed due to blizzard conditions. 

The Australian icebreaker ship Aurora Australis had come within 10 nautical miles of  the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

But it was forced to move back into open water on Monday afternoon by adverse weather conditions, which made it unsafe to continue with the rescue mission.

Earlier attempts by Chinese and French icebreakers to reach the Russian ship were also thwarted by the thick ice.

It was initially thought that passengers could be winched to safety by a helicopter on board the Chinese Snow Dragon, which had to abort its rescue mission on Saturday.

But AMSA said it would be “unsafe” to do so at this time.

Further attempts may be made by the Aurora Australis to undertake the rescue mission once weather conditions improve.

AMSA added that the ship’s scientists, tourists and crew remain safe and well, with enough supplies to last several weeks.

The team on board the ship set out from New Zealand on 28 November and had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's voyage to Antarctica 100 years ago.

They were trapped on Christmas Eve after a blizzard pushed thick sheets of ice around the ship, freezing it in place.

Despite their predicament, the scientists have continued their research while stranded, counting birds in the area and drilling through the ice surrounding the ship to photograph sea life.