Injured fishermen land in Christchurch
Seven seamen who suffered burns after a Korean fishing vessel ignited in the Ross Sea have been airlifted from Antarctica for treatment at Christchurch Hospital.
A United States Air Force C-130 Hercules plane evacuated them from McMurdo Station at lunchtime today and the plane landed at Christchurch Airport tonight at 8.45pm.
On arrival, the injured men were being taken to Christchurch Hospital for medical assessment and treatment, a Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand spokesman said.
Christchurch Hospital orthopaedics and plastics service manager David Brydon said yesterday three of the seven patients were believed to be in a serious condition.
It was believed the others had minor burns.
More details about their conditions would be known tomorrow, he said.
"The plan is for Christchurch Hospital staff to assess their injuries and admit them with a view to possibly moving two of the three more serious patients to Auckland's Middlemore Hospital burns unit for further care, depending on their condition,'' Brydon said.
Three Vietnamese crew died after the 51m toothfish longliner Jung Woo No 2's accommodation block caught fire on Wednesday morning 600km north-north east from McMurdo Station and about 2000 nautical miles (3704 kilometres) southeast of New Zealand.
Nearby toothfishing vessels rescued 37 survivors, who were from Korea, Vietnam, Russia and Indonesia but the three dead men's bodies were believed to remain on the still alight vessel, which was too unsafe to re-enter.
American research vessel Nathaniel B Palmer retrieved the injured men late Wednesday and gave them medical treatment while transporting them to McMurdo today.
Two Vietnamese and one Indonesian had been severely injured but were in a stable condition. One had deep burns to 50 per cent of his body and another had 30 per cent burns. The remaining four injured crew, two Vietnamese and two Indonesians, had less severe burns, the RCCNZ spokesman said.
An American Air Force C-17 Globemaster plane had initially planned to airlift the injured men yesterday but bad weather prevented it flying from Christchurch to McMurdo Station.