On Christmas Eve in Antarctica, a blizzard descended upon the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, surrounding it in ice and immobilizing it. Seventy-four people, including tourists, scientists and crew members, are onboard. But help is on the way.

The ship has enough food and supplies for everyone, so no one is in any immediate danger, but they are still trapped in Antarctica, which probably isn't what those folks were all hoping for.

A team of scientists on the ship had been re-creating the explorer Douglas Mawson's journey to Antarctica 100 years ago. The expedition's leader, Chris Turley, has been filming and uploading short videos to YouTube over the past few days. "Everyone is safe, the vessel is perfectly safe," Turney explained. "But we can't make a passage forward."

The Chinese ice-breaker ship Snow Dragon arrived at the edge of the ice Friday afternoon and began the arduous task of smashing through 12 miles of newly formed ice to free up the paralyzed ship. The Snow Dragon should reach the Akademik Shokalskiy sometime Friday evening.

Turney said the blizzard conditions had lifted, but during the storm, it was a pretty scary place to be. "The blizzard we had yesterday was quite extraordinary," he said. "It's not nice when you can feel the ship shaking."

[Denver Post]