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2 icebreakers trapped in Antarctica ice break free

Tuesday - 1/7/2014, 11:30pm  ET

BEIJING (AP) -- A Russian research ship at the center of an Antarctic rescue drama has broken free from heavy pack ice two weeks after it became trapped.

The research ship became trapped in ice-clogged Commonwealth Bay on Christmas Eve. A Chinese icebreaker called the Snow Dragon became stuck last week while trying to free the Russian vessel, but it was able to use its helicopter to retrieve 52 scientists, journalists and tourists from the Russian vessel.

China's official Xinhua (shihn-wah) News Agency reports the Snow Dragon escaped Tuesday after making a 100-degree turn and pushing away the ice to open up a channel of water.

Russia's state news agency ITAR-Tass reports that 22 crew members stayed aboard the research vessel, and it's now making its way out of the dense ice on its own.

Australian rescue officials say a shift in the winds "took the pressure off the ice," and allowed the ships to break free.

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APPHOTO XIN804: In this photo provided China's official Xinhnua News Agency, passengers from the trapped Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy, seen at right, prepare to board the Chinese helicopter Xueying 12 in the Antarctic Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. A helicopter rescued all 52 passengers from the research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice, 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, since Christmas Eve after weather conditions finally cleared enough for the operation Thursday. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhang Jiansong) NO SALES (2 Jan 2014)

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APPHOTO XIN801: In this photo provided China's official Xinhnua News Agency, the first group of passengers who were aboard the trapped Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy arrive at a safe surface off the Antarctic Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. A helicopter rescued all 52 passengers from the research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice, 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, since Christmas Eve after weather conditions finally cleared enough for the operation Thursday. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhang Jiansong) NO SALES (2 Jan 2014)

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APPHOTO ANT103: In this Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 image provided by Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, passengers from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy trapped in the ice 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, walk around the ice. Passengers on board a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice for a week are expected to be rescued by helicopter, after three icebreakers failed to reach the paralyzed vessel, officials said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock) EDITORIAL USE ONLY (29 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO ANT102: In this Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 image provided by Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Ben Maddison and Ben Fisk from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy work to place a wind indicator atop an ice feature near the trapped ship 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia. Passengers on board a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice for a week are expected to be rescued by helicopter, after three icebreakers failed to reach the paralyzed vessel, officials said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock) EDITORIAL USE ONLY (31 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO NY122: FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, file photo, provided by Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia. Passengers on board the research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice for a week are expected to be rescued by helicopter, after three icebreakers failed to reach the paralyzed vessel, officials said Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock, File) (27 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO SYD104: In this image provided by Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, Friday, Dec. 27, 2013. The research ship, with 74 scientists, tourists and crew on board, has been on a research expedition to Antarctica, when it got stuck Tuesday after a blizzard's whipping winds pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place. (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock) EDITORIAL USE ONLY (27 Dec 2013)

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