Rescuers reach icebound fishing boat Sparta

07:37, Dec 26 2011
The Sparta
STRANDED: The Russian fishing boat Sparta is stranded next to the Antarctic ice shelf in the Ross Sea.

A South Korean polar research ship has reached a stricken Russian fishing vessel that has been trapped in Antarctic ice for the past 10 days.

The Sparta hit underwater ice that tore a 30-centimetre hole in its hull on December 16, causing it to list at 13 degrees. Its crew of 32 have been desperately pumping out near-frozen sea water while awaiting rescue.

New Zealand officials said several rescue ships were halted by heavy sea ice in the Ross Sea off the northern Antarctica coast before the icebreaker Araon pushed through and reached the Sparta today.

Two parachute drops of pumps and hull patching gear by New Zealand air force cargo planes had helped keep the single-hulled Sparta from sinking.