Australia

Australian rescued from Antarctic arrives in hospital

Patient is moved from a helicopter to the Aurora Australis on 22 March 2015 Image copyright Australia Antartic Division
Image caption Rescue teams first had to wait for a break in the weather to move the patient by helicopter to the ship

A seriously ill man who was evacuated from a remote Australian research base in the Antarctic has reached hospital in Hobart after two weeks at sea.

The man, who has not been named, endured a 3,000-mile (4,800km) journey through the rough seas of the Southern Ocean on board an icebreaker vessel.

He was cared for on board by the ship's doctor who was in constant contact with experts in Australia.

Doctors in Hobart said he remained in a serious but stable condition.

His condition has not been made public but was not the result of an accident.

Image copyright Australian Antarctic Division
Image caption The Aurora Australis took two weeks to travel through rough seas back to Australia
Image copyright Australian Antarctic Division
Image caption Doctors in Hobart used telecom systems to advise those caring for the man on board the Aurora Australis
Image copyright Australian Antarctic Division
Image caption The unnamed patient was winched off the icebreaker in port in Hobart

The patient, who was a member of a trade team, had been at the remote Davis Station since November.

He fell ill in March days after the icebreaker Aurora Australis had left following a resupply mission.

The ship was called back, battling heavy ice, but then had to wait offshore for a break in the snow to allow a helicopter to transfer him to the ship.

"Once we had the patient aboard it took us a couple of days to slowly break through the sea ice near Davis before finally making it out into the open Southern Ocean," voyage leader Andy Cianchi said in a statement from the Australian Antarctic Division.

"The passage back was quite rough at times with wind gusts up to 60 knots [70 miles], and a 6-7m swell causing the vessel to roll heavily," he added.

Dr Jeff Ayton, the chief medical officer of the Antarctic Division, said caring for the patient on board had been a challenge as the ship was "a constant moving platform".

He said the medical teams had been "truly amazing", keeping the man "as safe and comfortable as possible".

Image copyright Australian Antarctic Division
Image caption The remote Davis Station in Princess Elizabeth Land is occupied all year round

"He will require ongoing medical treatment, but we are very pleased he has travelled well over the past couple of weeks and his condition has not deteriorated," Dr Ayton said.

Davis is a permanent Australian scientific research base. It is home to about 120 people during the southern summer and 18 in the winter.

The statement said the Aurora Australis would now be restocked before heading out to the tiny Macquarie Island base, 930 miles southeast of Tasmania.

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