Two dead after blast destroys Brazil's Antarctic base

An explosion has destroyed a Brazilian research base in Antarctica, killing two navy personnel and injuring a third, authorities said.

Brazilian Defence Minister Celso Amorim confirmed the deaths of non-commissioned officer Carlos Alberto Vieira Figueiredo and sergeant Roberto Lopes dos Santos, who had earlier been reported missing.

"In an act of heroism, they were precisely in the area of major risk in a bid to extinguish a fire and they did not succeed," Amorim said.

Navy sergeant Luciano Gomes Medeiros was also lightly injured in the blast, which occurred late yesterday after a fire in a room housing energy generators of the Comandante Ferraz research base located in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

He was first treated at a nearby Arctowski Polish Antarctic station and later transferred to the Chilean Eduardo Frei military base.

The Chilean Defense Ministry meanwhile confirmed that a joint Chilean-Brazilian team found the bodies of the two Brazilian personnel who had been reported missing after the fire.

"The bodies were found near the stricken base" and will be transferred to the  Eduardo Frei base, it added.

Chilean Defence Minister Andres Allamand told CNN television that the Brazilian base "was completely destroyed" by the explosion.

The blast also forced dozens of researchers to evacuate.

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