The South African ship S.A.Agulhas, which speeds across the ocean to rescue 79 Russian antarctic explorers and 28 crew on board the ice-bound vessel Magdalena Oldendorf, has by now covered 860 sea miles, or about half of the route.
The latest calculations show that the Agulhas has high chances of covering the rest of the route by the morning of June 26. Immediately upon reaching the edge of the ice zone, it will start searching for the easiest way to get to the ice-bound vessel.
The Agulhas is not going to wait for the Argentine icebreaker Almirante Irizar, which is expected to set out into the waters of the Antarctic Ocean on June 23; instead, it will try to approach the Magdalena and stop 150-170 miles away, so that helicopters could evacuate the explorers and partially the crew and deliver food to those remaining on board the Magdalena.
The Agulhas is bringing along two Orix helicopters, 12 pilots and technicians, and the Russian pilot/ice scout Andrei Masanov, who will play the main role in the forthcoming operation by boarding a helicopter and seeking out the easiest way to approach the ice-bound ship.
Three days ago, the Russians and the entire international crew on board the Magdalena introduced strict norms of daily food allowance -- the food that remains will be enough to last for 18 days. The crew, which consists of Hindus, Filippinos, Germans and Sri Lankans, is headed by Ukrainian Captain Ivan Diky.