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US Launches Dangerous Winter Rescue at the South Pole

© Flickr / Alan LightAntarctica
Antarctica - Sputnik International
The US has embarked on a dangerous mission to the South Pole to evacuate an ill worker from a science station.

A rescue team in a Twin Otter aircraft departed from a British base in Antarctica on Tuesday, to begin the 1,500 mile trip. A second plane is on deck at the base, if necessary.

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The unnamed scientist is reportedly an employee of Lockheed Martin and his illness is not treatable at the South Pole station, where researchers often spend months isolated throughout the winter. The first day of the Arctic winter began on Monday.

There have been reports that two workers are ill, but the organization has not announced whether they will evacuate both.

The National Science Foundation responsible for the station told McClatchy News that there are 48 people, including 39 men and 9 women, at the remote site currently.

"It's serious enough that we have considered this and are carrying out this flight," Peter West, spokesman for the National Science Foundation, told McClatchy.

The rescue mission is extremely dangerous, given the cold and changeable weather. Tuesday morning at the South Pole station, it was reportedly —75 degrees Fahrenheit.

"There are a lot of things that cold effects on mechanical systems" of aircraft, West said.

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