Rescue has begun for passengers, crew of trapped ship - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: All 52 passengers rescued from trapped ship in Antarctica

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ANTARCTICA (WKOW) -- All 52 passengers have been rescued from the research ship that had been stuck in Antarctic ice for more than a week.

"We've made it to the Aurora australis safe & sound. A huge thanks to the Chinese & @AusAntarctic for all their hard work! #spiritofmawson," expedition leader Chris Turney tweeted.

The helicopter began airlifting the passengers around 3 a.m. Eastern Time and taken to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis. The Aurora will now transport the passengers to the Australian island state of Tasmania, arriving in mid-January.

The crew members of the trapped ship will stay on board.

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ANTARCTICA (WKOW) -- Rescue crews have begun to get passengers off a ship trapped in ice for more than a week.

A helicopter aboard a Chinese icebreaker ship started to airlift the passengers shortly after 2:00 a.m. local time.

Passengers and crew members of the trapped MV Akademik Shokalskiy are being transported to another ship 12 at a time. "Fingers crossed this all goes smoothly and we are coming to the end of this soap opera on ice," expedition spokesman Alvin Stone told ABC News in an email.

The passengers and crew members have been trapped since Christmas Eve. Three ice breakers have tried to reach the ship, but the thick ice and raging storms were too much for them. Previous air rescues were delayed because of the weather.

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