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Russia turns down pole explorers' request

  |   Jan. 16, 2013 at 1:54 PM
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Russia has refused to allow a group of British explorers to start a first-ever winter expedition to the South Pole from its Novolazarevskaya base.

Russian Antarctic Expedition chief Valery Lukin said the request was turned down because the station cannot take responsibility for possible rescue operations, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

If emergency rescue operations are needed, it would hinder the work of research teams and put crews of vessels and planes based in the Antarctic at additional risk, Lukin said.

He suggested the British expedition use camp facilities belonging to the Antarctic Logistics and Expedition company about 6 miles from the Novolazarevskaya station.

The six-member British expedition, headed by veteran explorer Ranulph Fiennes, left Cape Town this month for the Antarctic.

They face harsh winter conditions including permanent darkness and temperatures of around minus 70 degrees Celsius.

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