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British Explorer Rescued from North Pole - 2003-05-28


It was a harrowing adventure with a Hollywood twist. British explorer Pen Hadow was rescued from the North Pole this week (Tuesday) after he was stranded for more than a week. VOA-TV’s Jim Bertel tells us the rescue came just in time.

Time was running out for Pen Hadow. After becoming the first person to reach the North Pole alone and unaided, he was trapped as he waited for rescue. Bad weather, freezing temperatures, dwindling food supplies, and a dead satellite phone -- it seemed a recipe for disaster and his friends and family feared the worst.

Their fears turned to jubilation Tuesday as the British explorer was flown off the floating ice pack to safety.

Sean Loutitt, the rescue team’s chief pilot, says bad weather and shifting ice made the rescue mission difficult.

SEAN LOUTITT, PILOT
"Our first attempt to pick him up, the aircraft -- when they arrived at 85 North -- couldn't find a suitable place to land, there was quite a bit of open water and some poor visibility and weather."

It took two more attempts before the team was finally successful.

SEAN LOUTITT, PILOT
"The weather was down so they wound up landing approximately thirty miles away and they waited for, I believe, eight hours on the ice for the weather to improve enough for them to get into North Pole to pick him up."

Pen Hadow is called the “human icebreaker” for his ability to swim through shattered ice sheets in a special immersion suit, towing 127 kilograms of supplies as he goes. He reached the North Pole May 19th after a two month trek that covered more than 750 kilometers.

Mr. Hadow had been on half-rations of nuts, chocolate and dried fruit since Thursday, stuck in his tent as temperatures plummeted to well below freezing. He hopes to travel back to Britain from the team’s base in Canada later this week.

Commenting on the explorer’s post-rescue condition, a spokesman offered this understated assessment, one befitting a man who has faced life-threatening danger before:

SPOKESMAN
“Pen is fine, apart from obviously being tired and hungry and in need of a shower.”

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