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Rescue a unified effort

Updated: 2014-01-09 08:22
( China Daily)

Comment on "China's icebreaker Xuelong trapped after Antarctica rescue" (China Daily, Jan 4)

The stranded Chinese icebreaker, Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, broke through the Antarctic's heavy ice floes on Tuesday and was headed for open water.

A helicopter on board Xuelong ferried 52 passengers onboard Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy to an Australian vessel on Thursday. The Russian ship had been stuck in the ice for 10 days.

However, Xuelong became trapped during the rescue effort, with the ice surrounding the vessel 3 to 4 meters thick, far beyond the ship's ice-breaking capability.

As we welcome the New Year, this rescue effort serves as a reminder that multinational cooperation remains possible despite the fierce territorial demarcation and disputed whale hunts that have headlined recent news from the wilderness of the great white expanse. The Australian Maritime Rescue Authority coordinated the airlift from the stranded Russian-crewed vessel by deploying a helicopter from a Chinese icebreaker. Australian and British passengers were then transferred to the Australian Antarctic Expedition supply vessel. From there, rescued passengers could have been brought to the Australian base or its French counterpart. This veritable United Nations rescue missions reaffirms the altruistic better angel of our natures and overrides each player's arch national and political interests and affiliations.

Although Christmas on Ice might hold strong appeal, the successful airlift could not be considered other than a life-affirming if belated godsend. If the insurance-related cost of the mission becomes a bone of contention, let us be reminded that the stranded science expedition aspired to further polar science. This is far different from retrieving solo sailors who embark on round the world yacht races through the turbulent southern ocean.

Joseph Ting, via e-mail

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