Australia rescues sick Antarctic worker with icebreaker, helicopters

Australia’s Antarctic Research Program says it has successfully evacuated “an unhealthy expedition” from its research station on the southern continent.

In a complex process during the early days of spring in the Southern Hemisphere — with temperatures of minus-10.9 degrees Celsius (about 12 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday — the Australian Antarctic Program launched its RSV Nuina icebreaker from the Hobart island state of Tasmania.

“This is the earliest we’ve ever been to an Antarctic station,” said Rob Clifton, the project’s acting general manager. said Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The ship had traveled more than 1,860 miles — the length of the trip from DC to Albuquerque — until it came within 78 nautical miles of Australia’s Casey Research Station on Sunday and broke through the ice.

From there, two helicopters took off from the RSV Nuina and made the nearly hour-long flight to the outpost, where they “collected the trip” and brought it on board. On board, the man received medical assistance from Hobart by “polar medicine doctors” and hospital staff, the plan said.

It declined to share further details about the traveler and their condition, citing privacy concerns, although it said the person had a “developing medical condition and required specialist assessment and care in Australia”.

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Clifton said Although the evacuation took place “a couple of days after winter officially ended,” ABC said it was “still winter in Antarctica.”

The project, a government agency, will contact other countries’ Antarctic programs, including the United States, to inquire about the location of their icebreakers if they need to use them, he said. But in the end, he told the ABC, “we could only do it with Australian resources.”

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The Australian Antarctic Program typically uses long-haul flights to shuttle people and equipment between Hobart and a small airfield near the Casey Research Station during the summer months. Website. Casey is one of three year-round stations operated by Australia and is the closest permanent station to the country, located 2,400 miles south of Perth in Western Australia “on the edge of the massive Antarctic ice sheet”. program Website.

In summer, up to 100 people travel at each station, but in winter the group shrinks to 15 to 20 people.

The icebreaker is on its way back to Hobart and is expected to arrive next week, depending on the weather.

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