Mon, Mar 08, 2004
Ice Station Melted Beneath Them -- Helos To The Rescue
Perhaps we didn't hear much about it, but all of Russia has been
riveted on the fate of an Arctic exploration team after the ocean
swallowed up 90 percent of their research station last week. Now,
the team is home safe, thanks to a daring aerial rescue.
"We knew we would be rescued in time," said Vladimir Kochelev,
the head of the first permanent Russia ice flow station in the
Arctic since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. Neither Kochelev
nor his 12 fellow researchers was injured in the nail-biting
Most of North Pole-32 sank into the
frigid waters after the ice beneath the research facility suddenly
melted Wednesday night. Kochelev and his team said the station
virtually disappeared beneath the waves in less than a
The only hope to reach the stranded scientists was by air. So
Russia launched an Mi-26 helicopter to the top of the world, not
sure if the rescue attempt would succeed.
"The place is at our maximum flying range, devoid of reference
points and completely white. But the main thing is to find the
people. One must bear in mind that no one has done anything of this
kind before," Igor Lavrenyuk, deputy commander of the local
aviation squadron, told state television.
The helicopter did navigate its way to the beleaguered
scientists, but its crew was unsure if it would be able to land.
The crew brought along rope ladders, just in case, but they proved
unneeded. The helo was able to land on the ice and the scientists,
who ironically were researching climate change, were able to
scramble on board.
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