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Monday June 12, 2000

Adventurers Rescued From Arctic

EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada ( AP ) - Two stranded French adventurers were plucked from the Arctic ice by a helicopter just 60 miles short of completing a three-month trek from Russia to Canada via the North Pole.

Arnaud Tortel, 30, and Rodolphe Andre, 28, got into trouble Tuesday when Tortel fell into a crevasse and injured his leg and ribs. The helicopter collected the adventurers from the ice about 80 miles off the coast of North Ellesmere Island.

The injury and long wait for help ended the trip, the Frenchmen said Sunday, safe in Resolute Bay, 1,560 miles northeast of Edmonton.

``That kind of expedition you don't do two times,'' Tortel said through an interpreter. ``This is a French premiere. Nobody's ever done that in France. It's still a great performance (going) from Siberia to 80-84 degrees north in Canada.''

He said the accident left them no choice but to stop.

``The injuries weren't life-threatening but they meant Arnaud couldn't pull his load any further,'' Resolute Bay outfitter Gary Guy said.

The French expedition team was equipped with a beacon, a satellite phone and a high-frequency radio.

Poor weather conditions meant a rescue plane couldn't get in until Saturday, then the ice was judged too unstable for the Twin Otter to land, despite seven attempts.

The Nunavut Emergency Service Division was then called in and arranged with the Defence Department to send a chartered civilian helicopter.