Sydney: Australian rescuers confirmed
today, there were no survivors from a helicopter crash,
involving four Frenchmen in Antarctica.
"They have confirmed that all four on board didn`t
survive the impact of the crash and the French team are
currently conducting recovery operations," an
Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) spokeswoman told
a news agency.
The AS350 Squirrel helicopter went missing Thursday,
after taking off from the French research ship Astrolabe
carrying a pilot, mechanic and two staff, from the Dumont
d`Urville French Antarctic research base.
A distress beacon was activated but heavy weather
hampered search efforts. An Australian air force plane
eventually spotted the wreckage on Friday, with three bodies
sighted among the debris.
The AMSA spokeswoman said a French helicopter touched
down at the crash site, 100 kilometres from the French base,
on yesterday afternoon and an on-board doctor confirmed there
had been no survivors.
Australian and American officials from McMurdo Base
were assisting with the recovery of the bodies and wreckage,
she added. Responsibility for the matter was expected to be
transferred to the French authorities by evening.
Officials had held little hope for the men, with
rescuers spying three bodies strewn among a large field of
debris when the wreckage was first spotted yesterday. AMSA had
described it as an "unsurvivable" incident.
The helicopter was last observed at an altitude of
just 29 feet (10 metres), travelling at only 20 knots (37
kilometres per hour), sparking initial hopes that it had
decided to land due to the extremely low visibility.