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Search for missing aircraft in Antarctica – Update #3

DATE: 24 January 2012 TIME: 5.20pm NZT

Search for missing aircraft in Antarctica – Update #3

Bad weather continues to prevent searchers travelling to the site of a beacon activated by an aircraft with a crew of three Canadian men, overdue on a flight in Antarctica from the South Pole to Terra Nova Bay.

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is coordinating the search, working with United States, Canadian and Italian authorities, after the Twin Otter aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter was activated at around 10pm last night (Wednesday, 23 January).

The beacon is transmitting from the Northern end of the Queen Alexandra Range, within New Zealand’s Search and Rescue Region – halfway between the South Pole and McMurdo Station – approximately 680km (370 nautical miles) in each direction.

There is solid cloud cover in the area, high winds of up to 170km/hr, and heavy snow.

Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator John Ashby said a DC3 aircraft had spent around five hours circling above the site of the beacon, but heavy cloud had prevented any visual contact. It has now returned to McMurdo Base.

Fixed wing aircraft and a number of helicopters, including a Southern Lakes (New Zealand) helicopter on contract to Antarctica New Zealand at Scott Base, remain on standby should weather conditions allow them to travel to the area.

“The forecast for the next 12 hours is for similar conditions, but if there is a break in the weather the joint New Zealand and US field rescue team is ready to go from McMurdo Base at short notice.”

The DC3 crew will now be stood down overnight, and given the weather is not forecast to improve in the next 12 hours, will not be returning to the scene until tomorrow (NZ time).

NOTE TO MEDIA: Therefore, it is not expected that any further updates will be issued until approximately 0800 Friday 25 January NZT (1100 Thursday 24 January Pacific time, 1500 Atlantic time), unless there are significant developments in the meantime.

ENDS

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