WELLINGTON, New Zealand — An Australian man who fell ill at a remote Antarctic base is returning home on an icebreaker following a grueling rescue mission, officials said Tuesday.
While the man worked at the Casey Research Center, he suffered from what officials described as a developing medical condition that required specialist evaluation and care.
The icebreaker RSV Nuina traveled 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) south of Australia last week, breaking through the sea ice and reaching a point 144 kilometers (89 miles) from the base, the Australian Antarctic Division said in a statement.
From there, two helicopters were dispatched from the deck on Sunday and reached the base almost an hour later to rescue the man.
“The first phase of the evacuation was carried out safely and successfully and the ship is now on its way back to Hobart,” said Rob Clifton, the division’s general manager of operations and logistics. “Our priority is to get this trip back to Tasmania for the specialist medical care it needs.”
The man is expected to arrive in Australia next week. Until then, Clifton said, he will be cared for in Icebreaker’s specially equipped medical facility by polar medicine doctors and staff from the Royal Hobart Hospital.
Officials said they are not releasing the man’s name or medical condition to protect his privacy.
During the southern summer, more than 150 people work at the Casey Research Station. But in winter, fewer than 20 people are available to do maintenance work.
The division said everyone else working at Australian sites in Antarctica was accounted for and safe.