News crew dices with death as ice shelf plunges near boat

An ITV news crew had a brush with death when a collapsing ice shelf almost plunged onto a boat they were filming on in the Antarctic.

Mark Austin and his crew were stationed in the continent as part of ITV’s climate change week along with ITV science editor, Lawrence McGinty and his crew. ITV claims to be the first broadcaster to attempt to anchor a week of broadcasting from Antarctica.

Austin said: ‘The noise was incredible and it unleashed a large wave that almost tipped our boat over. Eugene kept filming and I kept talking.

‘It was only a couple of minutes later when Bernard [the boatman], who’s seen it all down here, told us that we had escaped death by just a few seconds that we realised how close a call it had been.’ITV’s editor Deborah Turness said the decision to create a special focus on climate change came in response to the high levels of reader feedback to a week of programming about the environment called Three Degrees From Disaster, which tackled the issue of global warming. She said: ‘Audience feedback has been completely hungry for more information. More than for any other story people go to the website, they use the links and they interact and want to get involved. Eco-evangelism is on the rise.

‘With most stories that we do it is hard for people to get involved and have an impact. ‘If we’re exposing the treatment of soldiers fighting in combat zones, that’s a story that we can drive and people are very interested in but they can’t do much about it, apart from the way they vote. ‘Here everyone can get involved in it and do their bit. I think that’s what drives people’s hunger to interact with what we do.’ITV was given the opportunity to travel to the British Antarctic Survey in Antarctica with the people who run the project. Yet even before the ice shelf collapsed the trip became a logistic nightmare because they had to bring a huge satellite dish with them to transmit the material back to London. ‘Our gear was stuck in Punta Arenas in Chile and we thought it wasn’t going to be able to land on the ice,’said Turness.

‘It was so frustrating and HMS Endurance had to wait around for our gear to get there in the end because bad weather kept on turning the flight away. ‘I could see this really quite ambitious project going down the Swanny just because we couldn’t get the dish there’The week aims to show the cause and effects of climate change. One of the reports was by correspondent Martin Geissler who was based in the Carteret islands, a group of islands Northeast of Papua New Guinea – the first part of the world that will be completely abandoned because of climate change.

Turness said: ‘It’s the emerging story of our times. It’s something that is going to affect all our lives and we suddenly seem to have woken up to it.”We’ve all accepted that the melt is happening, but the message from Antarctica is that it is happening much faster than anyone thought.’ITV offset the CO2 emissions generated by the trip to make it carbon neutral.

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