Bad weather is hampering helicopter reconnaissance of the approaches to the ice-squeezed Magdalena Oldendorf with 107 people on board, including 74 participants in the 47th Russian Antarctic expedition.
According to Vladimir Kuchin, deputy chief of the Russian Antarctic expedition, the South African vessel "Agalas" has already reached the area, from which helicopter reconnaissance can be started. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the next two days is rather unhappy and it is unclear if the helicopters will be able to embark on this operation in the nearest future.
Kuchin reports that the Magdalena captain received the ship owners' official order to evacuate Russian experts and part of the crew by means of helicopters on board the Agalas.
The situation can develop further according to two scenarios. Helicopter reconnaissance data compared to satellite information will possibly show that the Agalas can move through the ice to an area from which it is possible to reach the Magdalena by helicopter. In this case, helicopters will bring to the Magdalena foodstuffs and rescue equipment and carry on their flight back Russian scientists and some members of the crew on the captain's instructions.
Otherwise, the Agalas will wait for the arrival of Argentina's Almirante Irisar in order to perform the same task with its help.
The Magdalena Oldendorf is a vessel strengthened against the ice, which previously belonged to the Far Eastern steamship-line and was sold abroad in the 1980s. The Magdalena was engaged in exchanging the winter teams of Russian Antarctic expedition.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club that Russia will never initiate military actions, including with the use of nuclear weapons