21:44 GMT +321 March 2018
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    MOSCOW, MARCH 5, (RIA NOVOSTI) - Twelve arctic explorers are stranded on a drifting icefield in Russia's North Pole-32 station near Spitsbergen. An AN 74 rescue plane left Moscow, 7 p.m., for Langjirbusi in Spitsbergen tonight. Gennadi Korotkin, Deputy Minister for Emergency and Calamity Relief, leads a rescue crew of six. Accompanying it is a crew of the Roshydromet, or Federal Hydrometeorological and Environmental Monitoring Service, which supervises relief efforts, says a ministerial PR officer.

    Station evacuation is scheduled for tomorrow. It will be up to the ministry crew to ensure safety and communications, and provide necessary medical aid. If need be, the ministry will dispatch a parachute force to assist the rescue.

    Another rescue aircraft, a MI 26 helicopter, was due to appear in Spitsbergen today. The icefield is too thin to hold the heavy copter if it lands, so it will hover above to haul the station staff up.

    The drifting icefield is making an approximate ten kilometres a day and night, and is now 760 to 780 kilometres off the Spitsbergen isles. All of the station personnel are in good health, and running no fatal danger, reassures the rescue force leader.

    Icefloes compressed the station at night March 3, and hummocks buried several dwelling premises and service outbuildings. A part of equipment went underwater never to be recovered.

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