Kiwi on board stricken Antarctic helicopter

File photo / APN
File photo / APN

Rescuers hope a weather window in the next few hours will assist with the recovery of an injured New Zealander and two other crew members after a helicopter crash-landed in Antarctica early this morning.

The helicopter - chartered by the Australian Antarctic Division - had three people on board when it was forced to make an emergency landing 150 nautical miles from Davis station.

The organisation said in a statement it was hoping a weather window in the next few hours would allow for further positioning of aircraft to assist with the rescue.

"The helicopter came down while returning from a scientific mission to survey a penguin colony near the Amery ice shelf.

"A Basler aircraft left Davis station early this afternoon looking for viable landing areas for a Twin Otter aircraft which it is hoped can establish a suitable staging point to begin the transfer of the injured to Davis station."

The pilot and two passengers were injured in the incident. The helicopter was travelling in tandem with a second helicopter which immediately set down and helped the injured.

The pilot and a passenger on the second helicopter are caring for the injured until additional medical support can be flown to the area and a recovery operation mounted.

"Because of the nature of the incident and the environment, their injuries are being treated as serious and awaiting further medical assessment."

Reports from the incident site are that all crew members are warm and sheltered and being closely monitored. Communication is being maintained with Davis station.

"At this stage it is not known what caused the incident to the helicopter, operated by Helicopter Resources, and chartered by the Australian Antarctic Division."

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman confirmed a New Zealander was on board.

- APNZ

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