Antarctic search for missing plane

2013-01-24 11:32

Wellington - A search was underway in Antarctica Thursday for a plane carrying three Canadians that went missing in bad weather on a flight from the South Pole, New Zealand rescue authorities said.

The Twin Otter aircraft was on its way to the Italian Antarctic base at Terra Nova Bay when its emergency beacon was activated at about 10:00pm Wednesday, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) said.

It said the beacon was transmitting from the Queen Alexandra Range, which lies in New Zealand's rescue zone, and RCCNZ was coordinating the seach with cooperation from US authorities at the McMurdo Antarctic station.

It said a US Hercules had flown over the area where the plane was believed to be but failed to find any sign of it.

A second Twin Otter was scheduled to set out from McMurdo on Thursday morning, working with a helicopter from New Zealand's Scott Base, which would set up a base camp and try to reach the area when poor weather conditions eased.

RCCNZ spokesman Steve Rendle said there were hope the three men, whose names have not been released, were still alive.

"If the beacon is operating, which it is, that's a good sign as a heavy landing can tend to prevent the beacon working, so that's a positive sign at this stage," he told Radio New Zealand.

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