U.S. scientists, Colorado support staff member rescued in Antarctica by Argentina icebreaker

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A group of American scientists who were stranded in an ice-bound island off the northeastern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula were rescued Sunday by an Argentine icebreaker, U.S. and Argentine authorities said Monday.

Photo: NSF

The four scientists and a support staff member, who were conducting research at Joinville Island, were airlifted by helicopter to the Almirante Irizar icebreaker.

Argentina’s Foreign Ministry said the U.S. icebreaker Laurence M. Gould was unable to carry out the evacuation because the ice barrier was too dense on the Weddell Sea in front of the island that is south of the Argentine mainland.

The U.S. Antarctic Program then requested assistance from Argentina.

Argentina’s armed forces said the five are in good health and will be transferred to the U.S. vessel when weather conditions improve.

The U.S. National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs said the scientists are led by Alexander R. Simms, an associate professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The support staff member is an employee of the NSF’s Colorado-based Antarctic support contractor.

“The U.S. Antarctic Program expresses its gratitude to their Argentine colleagues for their willingness to help,” it said.

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