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Fatal fire and explosion at Brazilian Antarctic base

27 February 2012

A fire and explosion has been reported at the Comandante Ferraz research base located in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Two naval personnel were killed and another injured.

Two were killed and one injured in the explosion
Two were killed and one injured in the explosion

About 30 researchers, one climber and a Brazilian environment ministry representative, who were at the base at the time of the explosion, were evacuated by helicopter to Chile's Eduardo Frei base. The injured man was first treated at a nearby Polish Antarctic station, and later transferred to the Chilean base.

Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim said the dead and injured men were attempting to extinguish the fire, which started in a room housing energy generators.

The Brazilian Navy also confirmed that a re-supply barge carrying more than 2,500 gallons of fuel recently sank less than a mile from the base. The navy said the sunken fuel, which contains chemicals to keep it from freezing, has not leaked from its containment, and that Petroleo Brasileiro has sent a ship to the scene in order to help refloat the fuel tanks and remove them from the water.

The two incidents are not related, according to the Brazilian government.

The Comandante Ferraz base, which was established in 1984, conducts biological science research focused on coastal and shelf marine ecosystems. Around 30 countries, all signatories to the Antarctic Treaty, operate seasonal and year-round research stations on Antarctica.

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