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A team of scientists and members of the public who have been retracing the footsteps of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) of 1911 have become trapped in heavy ice a few miles from the coast of Antarctica.Passengers aboard the ship, the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, were informed on Christmas morning that the captain had issued a distress call to the Maritime Service Authority based in Falmouth in the UK earlier in the day. Three nearby icebreaker ships have been notified of the Shokalskiy's situation and are on their way to help.The nearest ship, the Chinese Xue Long (Snow Dragon), will take just over a day to reach the Shokalskiy's position, around 1,500 nautical miles from Hobart in Tasmania. A French ship called the Astrolabe, and sent out from the nearest Antarctic base, Dumont D'Urville, could arrive around the same time. The furthest ship, also on its way, is the Australian icebreaker, Aurora Australis."The ship is no danger," said Chris Turney. "We're currently in heavy ice and we need help to get out. It's frustrating – we're only two miles from open water. Everyone is well on board and morale is high. We've had a fantastic Christmas and the science programme has been continuing while we're stuck in position. The results looking really exciting. We're very fortunate the Chinese are in the area, passing relatively close by."