China's expedition team leaves Antarctic icecap peak

2008-01-31 23:12:04 Xinhua English

ABOARD XUELONG, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- China's Antarctic expedition team on Wednesday safely evacuated from the inland ice sheet plateau amid worsening weather and plunging temperature.

The 17-member team descended to a site at 2,888 meters above sea level, some 850 km from China's Zhongshan Station in Antarctica, after three consecutive days of withdrawal at over 100km per day, team leader Sun Bo said aboard the ice-breaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon.

The team had completed a 20-day package of scientific research missions within 15 days around Dome A, the Antarctic icecap peak at 4,093 meters above sea level, before the weather became extremely wild.

As of Jan. 27, the temperature kept lingering below minus 30 degrees Celsius, with the wind intensifying its rage, Sun told Xinhua, saying the tough conditions were to blame for the rupture of some wire ropes connecting sledges and the repeated failure of petrol pumps.

Sun added that his teammates, although exhausted and having lost their appetite, remained upbeat and carried out a series of research activities during the retreat.

The 17 researchers, who successfully scaled Dome A for the second time in mankind's history on Jan. 12, is part of China's 24th scientific expedition team to Antarctica.