Lost Arctic solo ski woman 'probably dead'

15th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

HELSINKI, March 15 (AFP) - Chances are "nearly nil" of finding French-Finnish adventurer Dominick Arduin alive 10 days after she disappeared while trying to reach the North Pole alone, a feat never accomplished by a woman, her support team told AFP on Monday.

HELSINKI, March 15 (AFP) - Chances are "nearly nil" of finding French-Finnish adventurer Dominick Arduin alive 10 days after she disappeared while trying to reach the North Pole alone, a feat never accomplished by a woman, her support team told AFP on Monday.

"Now it's been 10 days, and I'm really not optimistic. The chances that she is still alive are close to zero," Christian de Marliave, of Paris-based firm Cerpolex, told AFP by telephone.

He added however that they would make a final attempt to find her this week, this time using a heat-detecting infrared camera.

"But it's not impossible (that she is alive), and that's why we will use the infrared camera, to make sure that we have done everything we could," he added.

On March 5, Arduin, a 43-year-old who holds both Finnish and French passports, set out from Northern Russia to become the first woman to ski solo to the North Pole.

Her support team lost contact with her just a day later, and no trace has been found of her apart from old ski tracks and her first campsite.

Arduin was scheduled to be re-supplied twice by helicopters during her two-month, 1,000-kilometer (620 mile) trek, the first time on Wednesday or Thursday this week depending on the weather, De Marliave said.

The plan is now to carry out this flight as normal, but the helicopter crew will bring the infrared camera and extra fuel along so they can thoroughly scan the area where she is presumed to be, he said.

If she is still alive, the camera should pick up Arduin's body heat from miles away, even if she is covered by snow, De Marliave said.

However, if she is dead, her frozen body would have the same temperature as her Arctic surroundings and the camera would be useless, he added.

Meanwhile, Finland's government has stepped up efforts to get help from the Russian authorities in the search, officials said on Monday.

"We have twice requested Russian rescue and police authorities to find out what has happened to her," Kauno Fagerstroem, head of police in the town in Finnish Lapland where Arduin has lived for the past 15 years, told AFP.

In addition, the Finnish government has backed up the request by sending an official note to the Russian foreign ministry asking Moscow do to whatever it can to find her, Yrjoe Lansipuro, a foreign ministry spokesman, told AFP.

Last year Arduin had to give up her first bid to become the first woman to reach the North Pole alone after she suffered frostbite from falling into freezing water, leading to the amputation of all of her toes.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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