Antarctic Rescue Mission Underway

MV Ortelius (Photo: Oceanwide Expeditions)

Posted by Eric Haun

Emergency responders have launched an urgent rescue mission to Antartic waters to evacuate a cruise ship passenger who is suspected to have suffered a stroke early Monday morning.

Working closely with the U.S. Antarctic Program and the vessel's operator and crew, Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is coordinating the medevac after receiving a call from the expedition cruise ship MV Ortelius located in the Ross Sea, off the Antarctic ice shelf, 3,600 km south of New Zealand.

The ship's medical staff recommended that the patient, a 66-year-old woman from the Netherlands, be taken to New Zealand for further medical treatment.

The MV Ortelius is transporting the woman, who is said to be in a stable condition, toward McMurdo Station, a U.S. Antarctic research center on the south tip of Ross Island located 620 km from the ship's original position on Monday.

"The MV Ortelius will attempt to get as close to McMurdo Station as conditions allow for the woman to be transferred. If ice prevents the vessel reaching McMurdo she will be transported by the vessel's own helicopter and flown to McMurdo Station. The woman will fly on to New Zealand on a regular scheduled flight," RCCNZ Senior Search and Rescue Officer Chris Henshaw said.

"Antarctica is one of the world's harshest environments and every precaution is being taken by all parties to make sure the medevac is successful."

"RCCNZ is in touch with the ship, McMurdo Station and government agencies in New Zealand to smooth the way. We expect the medevac will happen around midday on Tuesday New Zealand time with the flight to New Zealand occurring on Wednesday."

"Weather conditions are suitable for the medevac, however RCCNZ will monitor the situation. Everything's lining up for a successful operation, but we'll be keeping a close eye on the situation in the hours ahead," Henshaw said.

Jan 30, 2017

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