The Chinese helicopter taking the stranded scientists and crew members
The Chinese helicopter taking the stranded scientists and crew membersTwitter pic/ Alok Jha

It has now been understood that scientists and tourists aboard the MV Akademik Shokalskiy have been safely flown via helicopter, directly to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.

Initial plan was to fly the people on board to the Chinese vessel Sue Long (Snow Dragon) from where a barge would take the members to the nearby Aurora Australis. But the hard ice and the weather foiled the plan to bring the barge to the Snow Dragon. After a change in plan, the helicopter - after taking the stranded members - has flown directly to the Aurora Australis, from where they would be ferried back home.

Alok Jha, a journalist among the members stranded along with the Australasian Antarctic Expedition ship, said in a tweet, "We've made it to the Aurora Australis. Via a v big helicopter from Xue Long. Thank you to everyone who has helped this amazing operation"

Christ Turney, one of the leading scientists of the expedition, also confirmed that they have made it to the Aurora Australis safe and sound. "A huge thanks to the Chinese and @AusAntarctic for all their hard work!" he tweeted.

The Australian Meritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which is co-ordinating the rescue efforts, also confirmed that the 52 members from the stranded ship are now in the Australian icebreaker vessel.