Australian medical mercy dash for American in Antarctica

Christchurch (New Zealand) (AFP) –


An American requiring emergency medical treatment has been flown from Antarctica to New Zealand in a mercy dash in "challenging" winter conditions, the Australian Antarctic Division said Saturday.

The US Antarctic Program called Australia for help on Friday and a medical team was flown from Hobart in Tasmania to the US McMurdo base in East Antarctica to pick up the man and fly him to Christchurch in New Zealand.

Authorities in all three countries, citing medical confidentiality, refused to disclose details of the person other than that they were an "expeditioner" and there were "no public health concerns".

The Australian general manager of Antarctic operations and Safety, Charlton Clark, said it was an exceptional effort to ensure the mission went smoothly.

"The conditions on the ground were challenging. When the Airbus landed at McMurdo station it was around minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 Fahrenheit) with wind chill," Clark said.

"At this time of the year, most Antarctic nations have already shut down operations for the winter season, so this medical evacuation was unusual."