Antarctic expedition head refutes emergency evacuation reports

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The head of the Russian Antarctic Expedition denied on Monday media reports concerning an emergency evacuation of the Russian Antarctic station Vostok due to an extreme rise in temperature.
MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - The head of the Russian Antarctic Expedition denied on Monday media reports concerning an emergency evacuation of the Russian Antarctic station Vostok due to an extreme rise in temperature.

"Don't believe them. I am writing an official denial that will be published on our website," Valery Lukin told RIA Novosti on the phone from St. Petersburg when asked to comment on the reports.

However, Lukin confirmed that a number of personnel had been transported out of the region.

"This is a scheduled operation and not an emergency one. This was to be conducted in this timeframe, because the ship was unable to wait," he said, adding that 23 staff had left the station.

He also said a cyclone had led to the temperature rising from minus 38 degrees Celsius (-36.4 Fahrenheit) to minus 24 (minus 11.2 Fahrenheit), but that it did not result in an emergency evacuation.

Lukin said 11 people remained at the station and would be there throughout the winter.

The Vostok scientific station is located in one of the coldest areas on Earth. In 1983, a temperature of minus 89.2 degrees Celsius (-128.2 Fahrenheit) was registered in the region. Maximum temperatures in summer are no higher than minus 21 (minus 5.8 Fahrenheit).

For over 40 years, Russian specialists have conducted research of hydrocarbons and minerals, drinking water reserves, medical tests. They have also studied climatic changes and ozone holes.

During the Antarctic winter, the station is almost unreachable, so the station's staff are completely isolated for many months.

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