Helicopter, French researchers missing in Antarctic

29th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

A helicopter carrying four people working with a French research station has disappeared in bad weather in Antarctica after sending a distress beacon, French authorities said Friday.

The beacon was sent from an ice field about 60 nautical miles from the Dumont-d'Urville Station in the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, the territory's administration said in a statement.

Deteriorating weather forced back a second helicopter sent to the area to search for the missing chopper and its passengers, but the operation would resume in the daylight, depending on the conditions, it said.

"Taking into account that radio contact cannot be established because of the bad weather and the reach of the radio frequency (VHF) being limited to the ground, there is no news about the four people on board," the statement said.

The missing helicopter was carrying the pilot, a mechanic and two staff from the French Polar Institute Paul-Emile Victor.

It had taken off from a ship, the Astrolabe, that helps to resupply the Dumont d'Urville station and rotate its staff through Australia.

The ship is situated off the edge of the ice field, about 370 kilometres (230 miles) from Australia, and the distress beacon was about 150 nautical miles from the vessel, the statement said.

© 2010 AFP

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