Brazil Says Loss of Station Won’t Stop Its Antarctic Research

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil will accept the help offered by other South American nations with bases in Antarctica so that it can continue with the scientific studies of the white continent even as it works to rebuild the research station ravaged by a weekend fire, the defense minister said Monday.

Celso Amorim commented to the press in Rio de Janeiro upon receiving 41 researchers and military personnel who were on the base at the time of the fire, which left two people dead and a third injured.

The group arrived before dawn aboard a Brazilian air force C-130 Hercules that also carried marine Sgt. Luciano Gomes Medeiros, who was injured as he was helping try to put out the blaze.

The aircraft took off from Punta Arenas, Chile, on Sunday, which is where the Brazilians had been transported by an Argentine plane after being rescued.

Just 14 Brazilian soldiers remained in Antarctica to evaluate the damage caused by the fire and to investigate its cause.

Amorim said that the complete reconstruction of the base would take at least two years, but Brazil cannot suspend its Antarctic research for that time.

According to the Brazilian navy, which is in charge of the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station, the fire destroyed 70 percent of the facilities at the base, which is located on King George Island.

Brazil’s naval chief, Adm. Julio Soares de Moura Neto, who also received the survivors in Rio de Janeiro, said that the reconstruction of the base will start this summer, the season that is most favorable for such work due to the intense cold that prevails during the rest of the year.

According to Amorim, the new base will have better safety measures to prevent future fires.

The minister added that the air force sent another aircraft to Chile to bring back the bodies of marines Carlos Alberto Vieira Figueiredo and Roberto Lopes dos Santos, who died in the fire. EFE

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