TODAY | January 02, 2014
>>> there is breaking fuse from antarctica happening overnight to tell you ability. passengers on that research ship that have been trapped more than a week, airlifted to safety. we have been monitoring the rescue effort. sarah, good morning.
>> reporter: good morning, there was a holiday present for a group of arctic adventurers, there was a high flying to an icy drama, which had them trapped for more than a week.
>> reporter: it's 5:30 on the 2nd of january. if all goes well, we'll be off in about an hour's time.
>> reporter: it was a sound more welcome this new year's than the pop after a champagne cork.
>> the helicopters are coming to take us home.
>> thanks, everyone.
>> reporter: this helicopter, a chinese ship carrying the first dozen people from an ice bound russian vessel to meet an australian ice cutter. a massive complicated mission.
>> it's international the weather and ice all make it a very difficult operation to stitch together.
>> reporter: the rescue, a relief for 52 passengers stuck since christmas day .
>> as you can see, we are actually in the blizzard at the moment.
>> reporter: several ice cutters have tried and failed to plow through the thick shifting ice. so the passengers pounded that ice into a helipad as they belted out seasonal tunes. [ music playing ]
>> reporter: today, shifting ice nearly scuttled the mission again.
>> we will wait for conditions that will allow the rescue to be completed in a single operation to reduce unnecessary risks.
>> reporter: overnight, rescue teams opted to take advantage of clear skies and the passengers took off, homeward bound .
>> that said, the passengers aren't expected to arrive in australia and step foot on australian soil until mid-january. that's because the aurora next has to go to antarctica and resupply a base there. but they will get home before the crew of that russian ship. they are staying on that vessel stuck in the ice.
>> they may be there a while.