Evacuation operation starts

An operation to evacuate polar explorers from the floating station "North Pole-32" has started, Alexander Danilov, deputy director of the Arctic and Antarctic Institute told RIA Novosti.

In his words, at 7:15 local time (9:15 Moscow time), two helicopters - Mi-26 and Mi-8 left Spitsbergen for the station located 770 km from the island.

"Weather conditions in the area of NP-32 - light wind, good visibility, air temperature 25 degrees centigrade below zero - help to conduct the operation," Mr. Danilov said.

The evacuation operation is to be finished today, Mr. Danilov said, adding that on Saturday, the polar explorers are to be brought to Spitsbergen, from where on March 7 they will fly to St Petersburg.

Earlier, Mr. Danilov told RIA Novosti that the helicopters will take on board the people, remaining equipment and all materials of scientific observations collected by the expedition.

On March 3, the station got into a compression zone, as a result of which a number of hummocks appeared in the area, which covered some residential and working facilities. None of the 12 polar explorers was hurt.

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