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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 October, 2003, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Flat pack church for Russian workers
Flatpack pieces of the church on the ship
The journey to the South Pole will take more than two months

The Russian Orthodox church is so concerned about the spiritual well-being of workers in Antarctica that it is sending them a flat pack church and a priest.

A group of Siberian architects won a national competition to design the church.

They built it out of Altay cedar wood, which is considered a precious material, and incorporated 30 types of timber into it - a feature of old Russian churches.

The church was then dismantled and its different parts numbered and transported to the Kaliningrad port.

It took five cars nine days to reach the port, and the parts are now being loaded onto a ship bound for the Antarctic.

The Orthodox Church has decided to show some concern for their souls and build this little church
Yevgeniy Morozov

It will be more than two months before it reaches its final destination, the Bellingshausen research station on King George Island.

The church's architects will then fly there to help put it back together.

Yevgeniy Morozov, who is heading the expedition to the south, said the church would provide extra support for workers there, who usually have only themselves to rely on.

He said up to 64 people working in the area have died since Russia started occupying the region.

"So the Orthodox Church has decided to show some concern for their souls and build this little church."

Aleksiy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, has given the project his blessing and Father Georgy, who has 20 years of experience in the Polar regions, will conduct the services in Antarctica.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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