Mission Antarctica Volunteer Dies en Route

BRISTOL, United Kingdom, January 28, 2001 (ENS) - A woman from Bristol on her way to Antarctica on a month long environmental cleanup mission has died 150 miles before reaching the frozen continent.

Philippa "Pip" Gregory, 26, became ill and died on Thursday aboard the 67 foot Mission Antarctica yacht "2041" despite efforts of the medically trained crew of the vessel. They administered medication and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation while in continuous radio communication with doctors.

Radio distress calls from the yacht were heard by the Royal Navy survey ship HMS Endurance 150 miles away. Two helicopters filled with medical personnel flew to the rescue, and a doctor was dropped onto the yacht in fearsome weather conditions, but Gregory was already dead.


The Mission Antarctica yacht 2041 (Photos courtesy Mission Antarctica)
Her body was taken to the Russian research station at Bellingshausen on King George Island, the location of the cleanup endeavor. It is awaiting transport to Britain where an examination to determine the cause of death will be made.

Gregory was one of nine employees of one of the world's largest insurance companies Royal & SunAlliance on the Mission Antarctica expedition. "The other participants are naturally deeply shocked and arrangements are being made for them to be flown home at the earliest opportunity," the company said in a statement.

Gregory was the only British member on board the vessel which was carrying company volunteers from America, Australia, Canada, Ireland and Colombia.

Mission Antarctica aims to ensure the preservation of Antarctica for future generations through support of the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty. It is undertaking this work with the help, cooperation and support of industry, business and commerce by reaching out to young people in each of the 44 signatory nations of the Treaty.

Mission Antarctica is the creation of British explorer Robert Swan. The mission is to help Russian engineers clean up one of many scientific stations that litter the continent.


The Russian base at Bellingshausen
The Mission Antarctica workers aim to gather up 1,000 tons of metal scrap and ship it to Buenos Aires, Argentina for recycling. The Bellingshausen base is littered with old equipment, abandoned huts, metal scrap and barrels containing liquid waste.

The symbolic gesture is intended to persuade all nations who have research stations there to clean up.

The overall aim is to change the mindset of a generation of youngsters who will be adults and in charge when the Antarctica Protocol is up for review in the year 2041.