PHOTOS: The rescue mission at the end of the Earth to save an Australian expeditioner

An Australian expeditioner who fell ill while exploring wintering Antarctica has been the focus of a four day return-and-rescue operation.

Crew aboard the Aurora Australis are working tirelessly to refuel the giant icebreaker, which returned to Davis station yesterday afternoon after dropping off supplies earlier this week, while coordinating the transfer of the seriously ill man onto the ship.

The man’s condition has not deteriorated further and he is in a serious but stable condition, according to the government’s Australian Antarctic Division website.

Australian Antarctic Division Operations Manager Robb Clifton, said the team on the ship and at Davis are working in shifts to get fuel transferred in the current calm weather conditions.

“At the moment the temperature is hovering around minus 10 degrees with only five knots of wind, so we are trying to get as much fuel pumped aboard as possible,” he said.

“As the ice in the harbour was quite thick we decided to use a helicopter, rather than a barge, to drag the fuel hose ashore and connect to the Davis supply.

“We are hoping we will have enough fuel aboard by late this afternoon and can then transfer the patient later this evening or tomorrow morning.”

The Division’s ship doctor has been flown ashore to assess the ill expeditioner and assist the station doctor. The nature of the man’s illness hasn’t been released.

The Aurora Australis makes its return voyage to Davis station…

Photo: David Barringhaus/Australian Antarctic Division

A helicopter takes off from the ship during refuelling operations…

Photo: David Barringhaus/Australian Antarctic Division

The chopper then pulls fuel lines ashore from the ship…

The Aurora Australis waits at anchor at Davis station…

Photo: Cliff Simpson Davis/Australian Antarctic Division

An aerial view of Davis station.

Photo: David Barringhaus/Australian Antarctic Division

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