Rescue of ill polar worker delayed by bad weather

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An American worker from a South Pole research station was flown to a remote British base in Antarctica yesterday on the first leg of a rescue mission that had been delayed for days by bad weather.

The worker, who is not being named, fell ill at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station. He can walk but is said to need surgery.

He was flown to the British Rothera Air Station 1,350 miles away. After a short stop, he was then flown a further 900 miles to Chile from where he is to be flown to America. The worker is employed by Raytheon Polar Services, of Denver, which manages the station for National Science Foundation

"The Drake Passage between Chile and Antarctica has probably the worst weather in the world," said Steve Penikeet, manager of Kenn Borek Air of Calgary, Alberta, which supplied the pilot for the 16-hour round trip from Rothera to the station and back. "It's a long way, and kind of cold."

The rescue flight had been delayed for days because of wind and snow during the far southern hemisphere's vicious spring season.

Valerie Carroll of Raytheon Polar Services: "Definitely the weather at the bottom of the world is very fickle in the spring."

It is the third such rescue in four years, and is being made in complete darkness. The Sun doesn't come up at the South Pole until Tuesday.