A small plane with two sick US workers arrived safely in Chile late Wednesday after leaving Antarctica in a daring rescue mission from a remote South Pole research station, officials say. After making a stop for a few hours at a British station on the edge of Antarctica, the two workers were flown to the southernmost Chilean city of Punta Arenas, the National Science Foundation said in a statement published on its Facebook page. In a hectic two days of flying, the rescue team flew 3,000 miles round-trip from the British station Rothera to pick up the workers at the US Amundsen-Scott station at the South Pole, the AP reports.
"From Punta Arenas, the two patients aboard will be transported to a medical facility that can provide a level of care that is not available at Amundsen-Scott," the National Science Foundation says. The NSF has not identified the sick workers or their conditions, citing medical privacy. They both work for contractor Lockheed Martin. There have been three other emergency evacuations from the station since 1999. Normally, planes don't go to the polar outpost from February to October because of the dangers of flying in the pitch-dark and cold. "The air and Antarctica are unforgiving environments and [punish] any slackness very hard," says Tim Stockings, operations director for the British Antarctic Survey. "If you are complacent, it will bite you." (Read more Antarctica stories.)