American Scientists Rescued From Remote Island in Antarctica

An Argentinian helicopter airlifted the crew to safety after it became clear the nearby U.S. vessel was unable to break through ice.

A group of American scientists have been rescued after they were trapped on an Antarctic island surrounded by ice.

The four scientists, a staff member and nearly 900 pounds of equipment were successfully airlifted by helicopter Sunday in a two-and-a-half hour rescue conducted Sunday.

They were transported to an Argentinian icebreaker and will be taken to a U.S. vessel by a small boat when weather conditions improve.

“The U.S. Antarctic Program expresses its gratitude to their Argentine colleagues for their willingness to help,” The National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs said in a statement.

All five Americans were reported to be in good health.

The four scientists, led by Earth science researcher Alex Simms of UC Santa Barbara and a National Science Foundation support contractor from Colorado, have been conducting research on Joinville Island, off the north eastern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

They requested help from Argentina when it became clear the nearest U.S. vessel, Laurence M. Gould, was unable to break through the thick sea ice to get to them. 

The group is now planning to return to Punta Arenas, Chile, where the U.S. Antarctic Program headquarters is located.