Monday January 28, 2013
No body recovery at Antarctic plane crash until October
WELLINGTON: The bodies of three Canadians who died when their plane crashed into an Antarctic mountain will not be recovered until October at the earliest, officials said Monday.
Conditions on the frozen continent were too dangerous for an immediate recovery operation, with the plane's cockpit embedded in snow and ice at a height of 3,900 metres (13,000 feet), Antarctica New Zealand (ANZ) said.
"I'm sad to say our teams have not been able to access and safely recover the remains of the crew, it's just unsafe to do so," ANZ operations manager Graeme Ayers told Radio New Zealand.
"The aircraft has suffered a major impact into the side of the mountain and the front of the aircraft is firmly embedded in snow and ice."
The Twin Otter belonged to Kenn Borek Air, a Canadian firm that charters aircraft to the US Antarctic programme, and disappeared last Wednesday while on a supply run from the South Pole to Italy's Antarctic base at Terra Nova Bay.
Ayers said search crews had managed to recover some equipment from the tail of the plane but no attempt would be made to reach the bodies until conditions eased later this year.
"At this stage we're deferring the operation for recovery of any remains until the next Antarctic science season, which commences in October this year and runs through to February of the following year," he said.
Rescuers initially hoped to find the crew alive but described the crash as "not survivable" when they found the wreckage Saturday.
New Zealand coordinated the search, with cooperation from US and Italian authorities in Antarctica, because the Queen Alexandra range lies in its rescue zone. - AFP