U.S. Icebreaker To Rescue 2 Ships In Antarctica

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- A U.S. Coast Guard heavy icebreaker has left Australia for Antarctica to rescue more than 120 crew members aboard two icebreakers trapped in pack ice near the frozen continent's eastern edge, officials said.

The Coast Guard says the Polar Star is responding to a Jan. 3 request from Australia, Russia and China to assist the Russian and Chinese ships because "there is sufficient concern that the vessels may not be able to free themselves from the ice."

The Russian research ship has been trapped in ice-clogged Commonwealth Bay since Christmas Eve, while the Chinese ship which came to its rescue reported on Friday it too had become stuck nearby.