The operation to evacuate Russian antarctic explorers and the crew of the ship Magdalena Oldendorf, which stands ice-bound off the Antarctic coast, will probably be resumed on July 3 at the earliest, Vladimir Kuchin, the deputy head of the Russian Antarctic Expedition, announced in St. Petersburg.
According to Kuchin, Monday weather may be favorable for a rescue operation, but considering that on June 29th, the S.A.Agulhas was forced to withdraw 70 sea miles to the north because of bad weather, rescuers won't have a chance to use up this small interim.
As of today, there are about 250 sea miles between the Magdalena and the Agulhas -- a maximum distance for helicopters, so it is better not to run the risk, said Kuchin, adding that the Agulhas would have to approach the Magdalena to resume the operation. A more substantial improvement in weather conditions is expected on July 3.
As of today, on board the ice-bound Magdalena are 11 Russian antarctic explorers and 26 crew -- earlier, helicopters moved 68 explorers and 2 sailors to the Agulhas. They also delivered around 1.5 tons of food to the Magdalena.
An enhanced ice-resistance ship, the Magdalena Oldendorf used to belong to Russia's Far Eastern Navigation Company. During the 80s, it was sold abroad. On this particular occasion, the Magdalena was replacing a winter crew of Russia's 47th Antarctic Expedition. This operation was normally performed by the enhanced ice-resistance ship Akademik Fyodorov, which belongs to St. Petersburg's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. This time however, the Akademik Fyodorov was in repair in Germany, so the institute had to freight a different ice-resistance ship to perform the operation.