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Plane missing in Antarctica

Thursday 24 Jan 2013 8:11 a.m.

A file picture of a Kenn Borek Air Twin Otter in Antarctica

A file picture of a Kenn Borek Air Twin Otter in Antarctica

By 3 News online staff with NZN

Poor weather is delaying the search for the three crew of a Canadian plane which is believed to have crashed in a mountainous part of Antarctica.

The 19-seater Twin Otter aircraft was on a flight from the South Pole to the Italian base in Terra Nova Bay when it was reported missing.

It belongs to Canada-based airline Kenn Borek Air which operates in both the Antarctic and Arctic. They currently have 12 Twin Otter propeller-driven aircraft operating in Antarctica.

New Zealand’s Rescue Coordination Centre is managing the search after the plane's emergency locator beacon was activated about 10pm yesterday.

The beacon is transmitting from the northern end of the Queen Alexandra Range, within New Zealand's search and rescue region.

The nationalities of the three people on the plane are unknown but reportedly Canadian.

A United States C-130 Hercules plane flew over the suspected crash site this morning but couldn’t see anything and a DC-3 aircraft is currently flying over the site but thick cloud is preventing visual contact with the ground.

Another Twin Otter and several helicopters are on standby for when the weather clears.

Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator John Ashby says the missing plane is equipped with survival gear which included tents, survival suits and food.

He says the weather is expected to get worse before it gets better. 

“Weather conditions are extremely challenging. There are winds of 90 knots at the site and conditions are forecast to worsen with snow becoming heavier.”

Mr Ashby says rescue crews are ready to deploy.

They hope to set up a temporary base around 50 kilometres from where the plane is thought to have gone down.

Kenn Borek Air is not making any comment at this stage.

In 2007, a Kenn Borek Air DC-3 crashed on take-off in Antarctica when it collided with drift snow and ice. No one on board was injured but the plane suffered serious damage.

3 News/NZN

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