02/01/14 09:32 CET
| updated xx mn ago
| updated at xx
The evacuation of passengers from a Russian research ship stuck in Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve is finally underway.
A Chinese helicopter is picking up all 52 tourists and scientists from the stricken Akademik Shokalskiy.
The 22-strong Russian crew were expected to remain on board the vessel. All of those stranded are believed to be in good condition.
Blizzards, fog and shifting sea ice had hampered earlier evacuation attempts.
The scientists from several different nationalities were taking part in an expedition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of an Antarctic journey by Australian explorer Douglas Mawson.
The passengers, who remained in good spirits, were being taken to an Australian ice-breaker.
EXCLUSIVE: First picture of Chinese helicopter evacuation of Akademik Shokalskiy via— Antarctica Live (@GdnAntarctica) January 2, 2014
loztopham</a> for <a href="https://twitter.com/guardian">guardian pic.twitter.com/9WEFChFy0K
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