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Antarctic base staff in drunken Xmas punch-up

Two airlifted from polar station

Two men were airlifted from the US-run Amundsen-Scott South Pole station after what is described as a "drunken Christmas punch-up".

According to the Guardian, one of the men suffered a suspected broken jaw during the scrap. The pair were flown by US Air Force Hercules to the headquarters of the US Antarctic Programme - McMurdo station on Ross Island - although the injured man's condition was "too serious to be treated in Antarctica" and he was then whisked to Christchurch in New Zealand. The alleged aggressor was returned to the US.

A Christchurch Hospital spokeswoman confirmed a patient was admitted on Xmas Day and discharged the day after.

Peter West, spokesman for the National Science Foundation, which runs the US's Antarctic programme, explained: "There was an altercation between two people - there's no indication of the cause or of the background between the two folks."

The injured party is apparently an employee of Raytheon Polar Services, although the names of the two pugilists were not released. Company spokeswoman Val Carroll confirmed "an investigation into the incident would be held". ®

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