(CNN) — Two ships broke free Tuesday from the Antarctic ice that had trapped them off the continent’s coast.
Cracks in the ice allowed the Russian research ship Akademik Shokalskiy to escape the ice field where it had been stranded for two weeks, Australia’s Maritime Safety Authority said.
The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, which had gotten stuck in the ice during an attempt to extract the Russian ship, broke free about an hour later, officials said.
The Akademik Shokalskiy had been trapped in unusually deep ice since Christmas Eve with scientists, journalists, tourists and crew members on board. A helicopter ferried the ship’s 52 passengers to an Australian icebreaker last week.
“We continue to sail northward, changing courses and speed. The speed is 7 knots,” the Russian ship’s captain, Igor Kiselev, told the ITAR-TASS official news agency Tuesday.