2 icebreakers trapped in Antarctica ice break free

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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