Still hope for Antarctic voyagers: adventurer

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Norwegian adventurer Jarle Andhoy rejected criticism Thursday of his ill-fated mission to Antarctica and said he clung to hope the three crewmen missing from his yacht will be found.

"There is still a little hope as no evidence of (a) sunken ship is found," he said in a statement, adding he strongly rejected "all criticism which is not based on facts" about the expedition.

Andhoy and Samuel Massie were travelling across Antarctic by quad bike heading to the South Pole when their support vessel with three crew on board disappeared in a fierce storm.

Sea and air searches have only found the boat's damaged and ice-encrusted liferaft.

New Zealand rescue officials, responsible for searches in the area, have said there is no hope of finding survivors.

Antarctica New Zealand chief executive Lou Sanson said the 48-foot (14-metre) sailboat The Berserk was in Antarctic waters at one of the coldest times of the year and when the area was prone to fierce storms.

"At this time of year we close the (Antarctic) bases for a very good reason," he said.

But Andhoy said in a statement the disappearance of the vessel was a mystery as shortly before its emergency beacon was activated the captain had "reported of a happy ship".

He said they were equipped to be self-sufficient in all climates and conditions with security and safety a priority.

© 2011 AFP

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