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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Two missing in blast at Brazil's Antarctic base

Wasif Chudhary

An explosion caused by a fire left one soldier wounded and two missing Saturday at a Brazilian naval base in Antarctica, and forced dozens of researchers to evacuate, the military said.
The Brazilian Navy said the fire broke out in a room housing energy generators of the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Base, a research station located in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The wounded soldier, said to be in stable condition, was first treated at the nearby Arctowski Polish Antarctic station and later transferred to the Chilean Eduardo Frei military base, a navy statement said.

Military personnel were trying to bring the fire under control, it said.

Some 30 researchers, one alpinist and a representative of the environment ministry who were at the Brazilian base at the time of the accident were evacuated by helicopter to the Chilean Eduardo Frei base and were to be flown by the Argentine Air Force to the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas, the Brazilian Navy said.

According to the Chilean Air Force, a total of 42 Brazilians and two Spaniards were evacuated to Punta Arenas.

It added other people affected by the fire had been taken to the Eduardo Frei base which was providing medical support.

Two Argentine Navy vessels and two others from the Polish Antarctic station were in the area, providing support along with three Chilean helicopters, and Brazil's Polar Research Vessel Almirante Maximiano was en route to the area after sailing from Punta Arenas.

The Comandante Ferraz base conducts biological science research, especially on coastal and shelf marine ecosystems.

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