Russia to evacuate Arctic station over melting ice

Russian research station North Pole 40 (image: Russian environment ministry) An icebreaker is being sent to evacuate the station

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A Russian drifting Arctic research station is to be evacuated because the ice field around it is melting, the environment ministry in Moscow reports.

The ministry has ordered an evacuation plan to be drawn up within three days for North Pole 40 and its staff of 16.

It is sending a nuclear-powered icebreaker to help move the station, located near Canada's economic zone.

According to UN experts, Arctic ice melted at record speed in 2012, one of the warmest years on record.

The Russian ministry said the "abnormal development of natural processes" had endangered the lives of staff and the work of the station.

North Pole 40 went into operation on 1 October, replacing another station which had existed for just under two years.

It monitors the ocean environment and pollution, as well as acting as a weather station and conducting experiments.

It will be relocated to Bolshevik Island in the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago.

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