| BRASILIA – The Brazilian defense minister, Celso Amorim, has confirmed the near total loss of one of Brazil’s Antarctic outposts. “All the core base, which is where these facilities are concentrated, was lost,” said Amorim. “The exact degree of what happened has yet to be determined by experts, but the assessment is that actually almost everything was lost.”
According to a statement, released by her spokesman, President Dilma Rousseff received the news about the fire at Antarctic Station Comandante Ferraz “with great dismay.” According to the statement, the president ordered the defense minister, Celso Amorim, to adopt all necessary measures to safeguard the safety of scientists, service members and visitors who were on the base at the time of the fire.
The president also highlighted “the heroism of the military personnel in firefighting” and expressed “her solidarity and that of her government with the families of the two servicemen killed while serving the Fatherland.” Petty Officer Carlos Alberto Vieira Figueiredo and First Sergeant Roberto Lopes dos Santos are confirmed dead in the disaster.
The fire, which began at dawn on Saturday, destroyed virtually the entire station and with it 35% to 40% of the country’s scientific research on the frozen continent. Just last month, Brazil inaugurated its second base in Antarctica, Crisofera 1, located 2,500 km (1,550 mi) from the destroyed station Comandante Ferraz, and 670 km (416 mi) from the geographic South Pole.
Also last month, the defense minister Amorim attended the inauguration of ethanol powered generators at comandante Ferraz. Brazil was to be the first country to use renewable biofuels for electrical generation on the continent. The new, Brazilian engineered and manufactured ethanol burning generators were to run in tandem with the existing diesel generators for one year, before taking over for 100% of the power generation.
Preliminary reports say that the fire which destroyed the base began in the power generating station. At this point, there are no reports of a connection between the new generators or the ethanol fuel indicating blame for the fire.
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