The Antarctic desolation and cold could be too much for some people — even folks you would think are used to some cold weather. A Russian researcher has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly stabbing a peer at the Bellingshausen Station on Antarctica’s King George Island.
The apparent stabbing took place on October 9 after the researcher, Sergey Savitsky, suffered an “apparent emotional breakdown,” as the AP describes it, potentially fuelled by “tensions in a confined space,” according to Russian news agency Interfax.
Another Interfax report states that Savitsky is being held under house arrest until December 8 and is charged with attempted murder. That’s about all of the information available for now. I reached out to the deputy director of the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute but had not heard back at time of writing.
King George Island hosts various research activities across fields, with stations run by countries including Russia, Chile, China and the US, to name a few. Bellingshausen is a Russian research station, named after 19th-century Antarctic visitor Fabian von Bellingshausen, has been opened since 1968.
Based on my incredibly limited understanding of human nature from the movie Cast Away, incredible isolation brings out the strangest in humans. The only person I’ve ever spoken to who has been to Antarctica, science writer Mark Bowen, once told me, “It’s not a romantic place. There’s this really dark humour down there.” He went to the South Pole, not King George Island, but you get the picture.