Australia ship aground in Antarctica

The ship Aurora Australis sits moored in Antarcticas Horseshoe Harbour as it resupplies Mawson station in this undated file photo supplied by the Australian Antarctic DivisionImage copyright

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The Aurora Australis broke free of its moorings in high winds

Blizzards are continuing to hamper attempts to assess damage to Australia’s flagship icebreaker, which has run aground in Antarctica.

The Aurora Australis broke free of its mooring lines at the country’s Mawson station at 09:15 local time (04:15 GMT) on Wednesday, the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) said.

All 68 expedition members and crew on board were safe and well, the AAD said.

The ship has stayed watertight and its crew were monitoring the hull, it said.

The AAD said blizzard conditions were forecast to ease by Thursday and expedition members would be transferred to Mawson research station if winds dropped below 55km/h (34mph).

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The ship was taking on supplies at Australia’s Mawson base

The Aurora Australis left Hobart in Tasmania on 11 January and carried out marine science research around the Kerguelen Plateau, a submerged continent that extends for 2,200km (1,365 miles), before arriving at Mawson on Saturday.

It broke free of mooring lines amid winds of more than 130kph (80mph) and ran aground at West Arm in Horseshoe Harbour.

The AAD said that it was still unclear whether the ship would be able to continue its voyage, but added that the expedition could be continued on another boat or by plane.

The Aurora Australis was due to sail to the Davis research station to collect more expedition members before returning to Australia between 15 and 23 March, the AAD said.

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Blizzard conditions have continued for 20 hours after the ship ran aground

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Australian Antarctic Division

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The Aurora Australis is Australia’s Antarctic flagship

The Aurora Australis, which is 95m long and weighs 3,911 tonnes, was launched in 1989 and is capable of breaking ice that is up to 1.2m thick.

The ship, owned by PO Maritime Services, is designed to cope with heavy seas and contains laboratories that are used for biological, oceanographical and meteorological research. It also has a gym, library and recreation areas.

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