Explorers are stranded near Antarctica after their ship became wedged in by thick sheets of sea ice. The Spirit of Mawson voyage, which includes scientists, explorers, tourists and the Guardian journalists Alok Jha and Laurence Topham, is trapped in Antarctic ice floes and awaiting rescue.
But with the nearest ship with ice-breaking abilities at least two days away, the crew will spend Christmas and Boxing Day stuck about 1500 nautical miles south of Hobart. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority received a distress call on Christmas morning, notifying the rescue co-ordination centre that the ship was trapped and would need help.
A view of the ice from the deck of the Akademik Shokalskiy. Photograph: Laurence Topham
A spokeswoman on Wednesday said three ships had been sent to assist but it would take at least two days to reach them. "It's in quite a remote part of the world," she said. "But we have everyone safe. The vessel isn't in any immediate danger."
It is not known how long the ship has been unable to break free from the ice. The Russian-built ship, the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, left New Zealand in late November and has about 50 passengers and 20 crew members.
A view of the ice from the boat. Photograph: Laurence Topham
The voyage is part of a research expedition to commemorate the centenary of Douglas Mawson's exploration.
The Australasian Antarctic Expedition leader, Chris Turney, wrote on Twitter: "Heavy ice. Beautiful; light wind. Only -1degC. All well. Merry Xmas everyone from AAE."