Pilot injured after falling into remote Antarctic crevasse
12 Jan 2015, Nirapad News: A helicopter pilot was Tuesday in a critical condition after plunging 20 metres (66 feet) down a crevasse when he landed at a remote ice shelf in Antarctica, officials said.
The pilot, who was winched out of the deep crack by specialist officers in a “difficult” rescue, had fallen in after stepping out of his helicopter on the West Ice Shelf at a fuel depot site.
The unnamed pilot had flown to the remote site, 90 nautical miles northeast of Australia’s scientific research facility Davis station, as part of a routine operation to drop off fuel, the Australian Antarctic Division said, adding that he had “considerable Antarctic experience”.
Another pilot, who was in a separate helicopter was unable to help, and flew back to Davis station — just under an hour’s flight away — returning with three specialist officers, one of whom entered the crevasse and winched the injured man out, the Division’s director Nick Gales told reporters in Tasmania.
Gales said the West Ice Shelf was a very remote part of the eastern Antarctic region, with general working conditions on the frozen continent “always very dangerous and especially in the remote field”.
“The pilot is in a critical condition, having been transported back to Davis Station,” Gales said, adding that he was in the crevasse for two to three hours before being rescued.
Officials were assessing their options for evacuating the pilot, Gales said, adding that the journey to Australia could take 24 hours.
He would not release details about the patient’s identity and injuries, citing privacy reasons.
“We’ve contacted several other national Antarctic programmes to assess how and if they may be able to assist us… we’re preparing our runway at Wilkins near Casey station at the moment and we’re looking at other options as well.”
Davis is the southernmost of Australia’s three Antarctic stations, which also include Casey and Mawson, along with a sub-Antarctic station at Macquarie Island.
About 30 nations operate permanent research stations in Antarctica including the US, Russia, Australia, Britain, France and Argentina.