In Brief

Inquiry launched as two die at remote Antarctic research station

The maintenance workers were found unconscious at McMurdo outpost

Two technicians working at a research station in Antarctica have died in mysterious circumstances, prompting an investigation by authorities.

The men were employed as subcontractors to perform maintenance at the McMurdo scientific outpost, managed by the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) and part of the country’s Antarctic Program. The pair were reportedly working on a fire-suppression system for a building that houses a generator for a nearby radio transmitter. 

According to Reuters, they were found unconscious on the floor in the building after a helicopter pilot flying over the station, on Ross Island, “saw what appeared to be smoke coming from the structure and landed to investigate”.

Both men were moved away from the building and given CPR, but one was pronounced dead at the scene. The other was flown to a nearby clinic, where he died shortly after arrival, The Guardian reports. 

The men were employed by PAE, a Virginia-based subcontractor working for the NSF. The US Antarctic Program has not revealed their identities but confirmed that their next of kin have been informed.

The NSF has yet to announce any information on the cause of the workers’ deaths, and the incident will be investigated and reviewed by a panel convened by the foundation. NSF spokesman Peter West said the deaths were not being treated as suspicious.

Newshub reports that the tragedy “come just months after a Russian polar researcher stationed at a remote Antarctica base was charged with the attempted murder of a colleague in October”.

McMurdo research station was opened by the US in 1955 and is situated near McMurdo Sound, named after a British naval officer who was part of the expedition that first charted the area, in 1841, says the South China Morning Post

It is the largest research station in Antarctica.

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