Xi requests safety of staff aboard stranded icebreaker

Updated: 2014-01-04 03:44


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BEIJING - President Xi Jinping has requested all-out efforts to ensure the safety of the staff aboard the research vessel and icebreaker Xuelong, which is trapped in heavy ice after its rescue of passengers on a Russian vessel stranded in Antarctica.

Xuelong's rescue mission had been accomplished under extreme risks and has won honor for China and the people, Xi said. He expressed regards and greetings to the 101-member expedition team, and ordered coordinated efforts to help them out of trouble and ensure their safety.

He also expressed hopes the team respond to the situation in a calm manner and return safely at an early date.

Premier Li Keqiang issued an instruction, asking the Xuelong team to stay calm and wait for the opportune moment to get out of trouble.

Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, on Thursday successfully evacuated 52 passengers who have been trapped on the Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy since Christmas Eve, with the assistance of the Australian rescue icebreaker Aurora Australis.

However, severe weather conditions trapped Xuelong and the team when they were about to continue the expedition after the rescue mission. Sources say it is unable to free itself from the distress on its own.

It is expected a positive weather change on Monday would make conditions favorable for Xuelong to get free.