Body recovery delayed until October

The Twin Otter plane similar to the one the three Canadian's were flying. Photo / Supplied
The Twin Otter plane similar to the one the three Canadian's were flying. Photo / Supplied

The bodies of the three Canadian men who were killed when their plane crashed in Antarctica last week won't be collected until late this year or early next year.

A rescue mission was launched by New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC), with the help of United States and Canadian officials for the Twin Otter plane and its three crew after the flight from the South Pole failed to arrive at Terra Nova Bay on Wednesday.

On Saturday the wreckage was located 3900m up a very steep slope near the top of Mt Elizabeth, halfway between the South Pole and McMurdo Station.

The plane had suffered a major impact with the aircraft is firmly embedded in the snow, Antarctica New Zealand spokesman Graeme Ayres said.

He said the recovery of the bodies would happen during the next scientific season, which stretches from October through to late February.

"The site is extremely hazardous and we've got oncoming winter approaching."

Winter was approaching, temperatures were becoming very cold and there were increasing uncertain weather patterns, he said.

"Operating at that altitude at such a hazardous site, we just can't afford to place the rescue crews in hazardous situations such as that.

"They've done everything that they can in order to recover any remains, they simply have not been able to."

A cockpit voice recorder had been recovered, which would be returned to Canadian authorities, Mr Ayres said.

He couldn't comment on the cause of the crash.

"The key is to get the voice recorder back and for that analysis to occur and the causes will be established then."

The men's next of kin had been informed.

Their bodies would be sent to New Zealand and from there returned to Canada.

The missing plane was equipped with survival equipment, including mountain tents, and supplies sufficient for five days.

It was owned and operated by Kenn Borek Air Ltd, a Canadian firm headquartered in Calgary that charters aircraft to the US programme.

- APNZ

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