Bad weather is hampering the search for 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 – approximately 670km from Scott Base (450km north of the South Pole).
Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator John Ashby said a DC3 aircraft was now over the site of the beacon, but heavy cloud was preventing any visual contact.
Fixed wing aircraft and a number of helicopters, including a Southern Lakes (New Zealand) helicopter on contract to Antarctica New Zealand at Scott Base, are on standby waiting for weather conditions to allow them to travel to the area.
“Weather conditions are extremely challenging,” John Ashby said. “There are winds of 90knots at the site, and conditions are forecast to worsen with snow becoming heavier.
“However, when weather conditions allow, a joint New Zealand and US field rescue team is ready to go.
“We have been advised that the plane is equipped with survival equipment, including mountain tents, and supplies sufficient for five days.”