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No survivors in Antarctica helicopter crash

Denis Samyn

A helicopter crashed in Antarctica, killing all four French passengers on board, Australian rescuers confirm. The helicopter crashed in poor weather with a pilot, a mechanic and two members from the French Antarctica research base on board.


The helicopter went missing on Thursday evening after taking off from the supply ship the Astrolabe, en route for the French research base in the Antarctica. A distress signal was activated but poor weather hampered research efforts.

On Friday, an Australian air force plane spotted the debris of the helicopter, with three bodies sighted among the wreckage. The debris were spread out over a wide area at the crash site, 100 kiliometers from the research base.

Officials had held very little hope for the men. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority had deemed the accident “unsurvivable”.

In interview with the French daily Ouest France, Yves Frenot, the director of the French Antarctica research base, said he was devastated by the death of two staff members.

“They had been working for us for several years and they were passionate about their work.”

Dumont d’Urville, the main French Antarctica base, is situated on an island close to the magnetic south pole and is frequented swept by hurricane-strength winds.

The supply ship the Astrolabe regularly transports personnel and supplies from Tasmania, in Australia, to the research centre. The last part of the journey is completed by helicopter.

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