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Second air drop for stricken Russian fishing ship
Second air drop under way for leaking Russian fishing ship near Antarctica
By The Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) ' A New Zealand air force cargo plane flew to Antarctica on Wednesday to drop sea pumps and hull patches to a leaking Russian fishing vessel, stuck in the frigid waters after hitting sea ice last week.

The vessel Sparta, with 32 crew in board, hit underwater ice Friday that tore a 1-foot (30-centimeter) hole in the hull and caused it to list at 13 degrees. Rescue ships, hampered by heavy sea ice, were still several days away from the Ross Sea shelf area of northern Antarctica where the stricken ship sits immobilized.

Maritime New Zealand, which is coordinating rescue attempts, said Wednesday this second air drop of vital pumps and patches will help the crew in their fight to keep the ship afloat after it was damaged below the waterline.

Search and rescue mission coordinator John Dickson said the crew's efforts over the past few days meant the vessel was now back on an even keel and "the crew only needs to resume pumping occasionally to keep ahead of the water ingress."

A New Zealand Defense Force C-130 plane was scheduled to drop the extra equipment, including patches for its torn hull, to the vessel later in the day.

Weather conditions in the area were reasonably good, with occasional snow showers and clouds, but were forecast to worsen Thursday, Dickson said.

The crew is made up of 15 Russians, 16 Indonesians and one Ukrainian, the agency said.

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