Man evacuated from Antarctica after drunken fight

21:38, Feb 17 2009

A drunken Christmas punch-up has ended with an emergency medical evacuation from Antarctica to Christchurch, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A ski-equipped United States Air Force Hercules had to make an unscheduled flight from McMurdo Station, near New Zealand's Scott Base, to the South Pole to collect a man who was believed to have suffered a broken jaw.

He was flown back to the ice runway near McMurdo, and taken by helicopter to the nearby medical centre, where it was decided his injuries were too serious to be treated in Antarctica. The man was flown back to the runway, and boarded the Hercules -- accompanied by a flight nurse and a paramedic -- for the flight to Christchurch.

McMurdo staff were expecting a day off for Christmas, but dozens of support workers had to return to work to help the medevac.

One staff member estimated the flight cost about $325,000.

A Christchurch Hospital spokeswoman said a man was admitted on Christmas Day, and was discharged yesterday.

The South Pole station is one of the most expensive places to visit on the planet, with winter medevacs from the pole costing up to $2 million.



The Press