Chinese state media say the country's icebreaker has broken free from heavy sea ice in Antarctica after becoming trapped last week.

The Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, reported becoming trapped on Friday, a day after rescuing those on board a Russian research ship that became stuck on Christmas Eve.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported from the Xue Long that it successfully escaped on Tuesday after making a 100-degree turn and pushing away the ice, thereby splitting it and opening up a channel of water.

The research ship, Akademik Shokalskiy, had been retracing Sir Douglas Mawson's Antarctic expedition and conducting scientific research when it became trapped in heavy ice. The 52 scientists and tourists on board were airlifted to safety more than a week later by a helicopter that was flown off the Snow Dragon.