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|South Sandwich Islands News|
Lesley Friedsam and Peter Damisch
THEY met at a grave site, a beautifully desolate spot at the bottom of the planet typically inhabited by king penguins and southern elephant seals. In December 2003 Lesley Jennifer Friedsam, a divorce lawyer, and Peter Whiton Damisch, an owner of a sailing school and sailboat chartering company, had each been lured there by a passion for icebergs, wildlife and adventure. They discovered each other when their three-week cruise stopped on the day before Christmas at the remote sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, where Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer, is buried.
Retracing an Ill-Fated Shackleton Expedition
Sir Ernest Shackleton's great renown as an explorer is not based on what he discovered, but on what he survived. The captain of the British ship Endurance set out in 1914 to become the first man to cross the Antarctic continent. Four months after the Endurance was caught and crushed in ice, Shackleton and five crewmen set out in a 22-foot boat, hoping to reach a whaling station on South Georgia island, some 800 miles away. Remarkably, their attempt was successful and the rest of Shackleton's crew was rescued 22 months after their expedition began. PBS/Nova Online (www.pbs.org /wgbh/nova/shackleton) will follow three modern mountaineers as they retrace Shackleton's steps across the glacier peaks of South Georgia. Online dispatches will include audio from the climbers themselves, digital maps and, weather permitting, 360-degree panoramas from the peaks.
Antarctica's Summer Resort
AS we prepare to go ashore on South Georgia Island, a remote sliver of British territory 1,200 miles east of Cape Horn in the far southern Atlantic Ocean, it feels more like war than a holiday. Before the operation begins, we are summoned to a briefing in our ship's dining room. No one who misses it will be allowed into the Zodiacs. Andrew, a 28-year old Canadian who doesn't need a uniform to establish his authority, tells us in no uncertain terms what we must do and what we must not. We are to descend the gangplank of the 370-foot Akademik Ioffe, a chartered Russian polar research vessel, one by one. We are stuffed into sweaters, waterproof slickers and boots, and are creamed and goggled against ultra-violet rays of the January sun, in southern summer. Andrew reminds us that the damaged ozone layer offers diminished screening from these burning rays in the far south.
BRITAIN RETAKES ANOTHER ATLANTIC ISLAND FROM ARGENTINA
Britain said today that it had reclaimed the last of its South Atlantic possessions from Argentina without a fight. It said troops based on the Falkland Islands swooped onto Thule, the southernmost of the remote South Sandwich Islands, and captured a team of Argentine scientists. Britain said the scientists were there illegally, but Buenos Aires, which confirmed the takeover, said an agreement had been reached years ago authorizing their presence.
BRITISH REPORTEDLY LAND ON SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS
Argentina said tonight that British forces attacked and surrounded an Argentine scientific survey station in the South Sandwich Islands. The islands are a British dependancy of the Falkland Islands. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that British helicopters today fired on the station, situated on the tiny island of Thule, one of the southernmost islands in the group, which lies more than 1,000 miles southeast of the Argentine coast in the South Atlantic. The attack would be the first hostile action in the area since Argentina seized the Falkland Islands 11 weeks ago. Britain completed the recapture of the Falklands on Monday when Argentine troops there surrendered.
BRITAIN REPORTS TROOPS SEIZE KEY HARBOR ON SOUTH GEORGIA AFTER FIRING ON ARGENTINE SUB
Argentina said early today that British forces had "apparent initial success" in their assault on the remote South Atlantic island of South Georgia. Britain said it had captured South Georgia's principal port of Grytviken. Argentina's military junta said in a communique this morning that its forces "fell back from their initial positions and continue fighting in interior zones with an unbreakable spirit of combat." The statement followed a series of communiques that appeared to be preparing the Argentine public for the news that the first battle of the Falkland Islands crisis had been lost. As President Leopoldo Galtieri met with other military chiefs, the last statement issued Sunday night said the commander of Argentine marines at Leith Harbor, the other Argentine-defended position on South Georgia, "in his last message, communicated that he has destroyed his codes and would do the same with his radio before confronting the final combat."
ARGENTINES EXPRESSING SURPRISE AND BITTERNESS
Argentines received the news today of the British attack on South Georgia Island with disbelief. The news spread slowly, building through the day, with announcements from London of British successes followed several hours later by communiques from the Argentine military junta that their soldiers were bravely fighting on. Few Argentines apparently expected the British to strike today. The submarine that was attacked by British helicopters this morning was on the surface, delivering mail and supplies to the small Argentine garrison on the island.
IN QUIET CORNWALL, BRITONS ARE UNEASY OVER NEWS
The news of the British invasion of South Georgia reached the tranquil, isolated southwest corner of England at sundown. Heather Crosbie, white-haired and pink-cheeked, put down her glasses and said she was ''shattered.'' Sitting in her little whitewashed Cornish inn, with a swan floating silently past in the creek outside, she told a visitor that she and her friends had ''never thought it would come to this, in our day, over something so very far away.'' ''We have been trying, haven't we, to do everything we can to avoid fighting?'' she asked, a little hesitantly, perhaps anxious that her country not be thought a warmonger.
TEXTS OF ARGENTINE AND BRITISH STATEMENTS
Following is the text of an Argentine Government statement yesterday in Buenos Aires on the military action in South Georgia, as translated by The Associated Press, and the text of a British Government statement read later in London by Defense Secretary James Nott: Argentine Statement The military junta advises the people of Argentina that military action initiated this morning with the attack on the Argentine garrison in the South Georgias and on the submarine anchored in the zone to resupply the island is continuing. The Argentine forces are resisting intense shelling from British naval units and machine-gun fire from the air, observing the highest morale and fighting capacity, which is making the operation initiated by the attacking forces very difficult. The British aggression, already judged internationally as a flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 502, will not break the high combat morale of the defenders of the islands, which were reconquered with difficulty by our forces. The people can be sure that the situation continues to be favorable for our country in the military field as well as the diplomatic field.
HAIG MISSION THROWN INTO DOUBT BY ARGENTINE'S STATEMENT ON TALKS
Future American mediation efforts in the Falklands crisis were thrown into doubt tonight when Argentina's Foreign Minister asked for a postponement of a meeting with Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. and later said Argentina had suspended talks because of Britain's military action in South Georgia. Foreign Minister Nicanor Costa Mendez said he had decided not to see Mr. Haig as planned because the attack by the British led Argentina to believe that ''the negotiations with Britain had terminated.'' The State Department, however, declined to say the American effort had ended. It said, shortly before Mr. Costa Mendez spoke, that Mr. Haig had had long telephone conversations this afternoon with the Argentine Foreign Minister and would speak with him Monday.
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