Sick US South Pole scientist flown to New Zealand

October 18, 2011

A US scientist stranded in Antarctica for almost two months following a suspected stroke has been evacuated from the South Pole to New Zealand in a hazardous airlift.

Renee-Nicole Douceur spoke of her relief after arriving in the South Island city of Christchurch on Monday night. Television pictures showed a tired but upbeat Douceur making her own way through the airport after the flight.

The 58-year-old scientist said she was pleased to have completed the flights without suffering further health complications.

"Coming from the South Pole on the unpressurised plane, I was worried about whether it could do some more serious damage or a stroke or who knows what else," Douceur told TVNZ.

"They kept the plane at very low altitudes, the air crew know what to do if something happened to me."

Douceur is believed to have suffered a stroke at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in late August, complaining of temporary and difficulty speaking.

But the harsh , where temperatures can plunge to -60 Celsius (-72 Fahrenheit), meant an immediate evacuation was impossible.

With conditions easing on the frozen continent over the weekend, reports said a cargo plane set off for Antarctica on Saturday, landing briefly at Britain's Rothera base before heading to South Pole and picking up Douceur.

Accompanied by a medic, she was then taken to the US McMurdo base and transferred to a US C-17 Globemaster, which completed the trip to Christchurch, the reports said.

Douceur was expected to undergo scans and medical assessments Tuesday to try to determine the exact nature of her condition.

The is reportedly the earliest flight after winter to the since US doctor Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald was airlifted out in 1999 after diagnosing and treating her own for five months.

Officials with the US Antarctic program in Christchurch refused to comment, referring all inquiries to their head office in the United States and Douceur's employer Raytheon Polar Services.

Explore further: Scott's s South Pole epic trek recreated

Related Stories

British soldiers reach South Pole

December 28, 2006

A team of British military personnel has become the first service members to visit the South Pole in nearly 100 years.

Doctor in 1999 South Pole rescue dies in Mass.

June 24, 2009

(AP) -- Dr. Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald, who diagnosed and treated her own breast cancer before a dramatic rescue from the South Pole a decade ago, has died after the disease recurred. She was 57.

Relics from Scott's doomed Antarctic trip on sale

August 25, 2010

The skis and scientific instruments of a physicist who accompanied Captain Scott on his ill-fated trip to the Antarctic will be sold in London next month, Christie's auctioneers said Wednesday.

India makes first expedition to South Pole

November 1, 2010

India will kick off its first scientific expedition to the South Pole on Monday to analyse environmental changes in the frozen continent over the past 1,000 years, the mission leader said Saturday.

Survivors of Antarctic mission land in NZ

February 28, 2011

Two Norwegian adventurers Monday said they held slim hopes of finding the three other members of their party alive, after their yacht went missing in a fierce Antarctic storm.

Recommended for you

Horn of Africa drying ever faster as climate warms

October 9, 2015

The Horn of Africa has become increasingly arid in sync with the global and regional warming of the last century and at a rate unprecedented in the last 2,000 years, according to new research led by a University of Arizona ...

Could 'The Day After Tomorrow' happen?

October 9, 2015

A researcher from the University of Southampton has produced a scientific study of the climate scenario featured in the disaster movie 'The Day After Tomorrow'.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.