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Icebreaker prepares for Antarctica breakout

By WANG QIAN (China Daily)    08:05, January 07, 2014
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Crew members onboard the Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, which is trapped in Antarctica, practice boxing on Sunday. Wednesday's weather conditions may help the ship break out of frozen floes. ZHANG JIANSONG / XINHUA

The trapped Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, warmed up its engine and widened a path through the ice on Monday, preparing to break out of frozen floes in Antarctica, as weather conditions may turn favorable before Wednesday.

"The path is up to 80 meters wide and 1 kilometer long, which will help the vessel in breaking free," Qu Tanzhou, director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration under the State Oceanic Administration, said on Monday.

Although the southeast wind did not turn into a favorable west wind as expected on Monday, the heavy snow of the past few days turned to sleet, which melted parts of the ice floes, Qu said.

"It's good news!"

Zhang Lin, a meteorologist from the emergency team established in Beijing for the rescue, said the west wind, expected between Monday evening and Wednesday morning, will provide favorable weather conditions for Xuelong and will likely loosen the surrounding floes.

"The window for the vessel to sail out is quite small, which means Xuelong needs to be ready at any m