US scientists rescued in Antarctica by Argentina icebreaker

This Sunday, March 11, 2018 photo distributed by Argentina's Navy shows an Argentina helicopter landing to rescue stranded American scientists on Joinville Island in Antarctica, south of the Argentine mainland. An Argentine icebreaker has rescued the five American scientists who were stranded in the island off the northeast tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. (Argentina Navy via AP)

An Argentine icebreaker has rescued five American scientists who were stranded in an island lying off the northeast tip of the Antarctic Peninsula

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A group of American scientists who were stranded in an ice-bound island off the northeastern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula were rescued Sunday by an Argentine icebreaker, U.S. and Argentine authorities said Monday.

The four scientists and a support staff member, who were conducting research at Joinville Island, were airlifted by helicopter to the Almirante Irizar icebreaker.

Argentina's Foreign Ministry said that the U.S. icebreaker Laurence M. Gould was unable to carry out the evacuation because the ice barrier was too dense on the Weddell Sea in front of the island that is south of the Argentine mainland. The U.S. Antarctic Program then requested assistance from Argentina.

Argentina's armed forces said that the five are in good health and will be transferred to the U.S. vessel when weather conditions improve.

The U.S. National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs said the scientists are led by Alexander R. Simms, an associate professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The support staff member is an employee of the NSF's Colorado-based Antarctic support contractor.

"The U.S. Antarctic Program expresses its gratitude to their Argentine colleagues for their willingness to help," it said.

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