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Search for missing aircraft in Antarctica – Update #4

DATE: 25 January 2012 TIME: 9am

Search for missing aircraft in Antarctica – Update #4

Bad weather continues to prevent visual contact being made with an aircraft missing 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 on Wednesday, 23 January.

Another Twin Otter aircraft from McMurdo Base flew to over the site of the beacon activation this morning but heavy cloud and strong winds prevented any visual contact.

The location is at a height of 3,900m (13,000 feet) at 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).

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Kevin Banaghan said the beacon stopped transmitting overnight but this was not unexpected given the battery life and the cold conditions. The location has been well identified.

“Weather conditions remain very challenging and are forecast to continue for the next 12 hours. However, over the next 24 hours winds in the area are forecast to drop from 90 knots (170km/hr) to 20 knots (35km/hr), with cloud forecast to lift and become scattered.

“When conditions ease, the intention is to set up a forward base at a location approximately 50km from the beacon site, from which to launch operations to the site.”

Weather conditions have not yet allowed helicopters to fly to the area, but two helicopters, including a Southern Lakes (New Zealand) helicopter on contract to Antarctica New Zealand at Scott Base, remain on standby should weather conditions change.




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