Chilean Warship Helps out Bulgarian Antarctic Researchers
Six Bulgarian Antarctic researchers were collected by the ship "Lautaro" from the Bulgarian base on Livingston Island in the South Shetlands, the leader of the expedition, Prof. Hristo Pimpirev, reported on Thursday, quoted by the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute in a press release. The emergency arrangements had to be made after newly detected COVID-19 cases among the crew of the Chilean icebreaker "Achilles", which was supposed to fetch the researchers, prevented the ship from leaving for Antarctica on Thursday, and the six Bulgarians faced the prospect of being stranded on the island in harsh weather conditions and with limited food supplies.
The six-strong 29th Bulgarian Antarctic expedition, which had to be downsized due to the pandemic, spent over a month at the St Kliment Ohridski base. They took year-round measurement readings relevant to the state of the environment, seismic and tidal events, recharged the equipment for the next season and repaired damage caused by the extreme weather on the buildings and the equipment in the base and conserved it for next year.
The small Chilean warship was the only vessel in the area, and she agreed to change its schedule and take the six on board late
at night after negotiations between Prof. Pimpirev and the chief of logistics at the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH).
The "Lautaro" will transport the Bulgarians to the Professor Julio Escudero Base on the neighbouring King George Island,
where they will wait for a Uruguayan Hercules military transport plane to take them to Punta Arenas by its flight scheduled for
"Thanks to the swift reaction of the Chilean and Uruguayan friends, the six Bulgarian researchers were spared the need to
spend an indefinite period of time without food and fuel at the winterized base on Livingston Island, alone amidst the coming
Antarctic winter," the press release says. BTA
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