Slow progress in Antarctic plane search

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iol scitech sep 14 antarctic REUTERS Antarctica.

Wellington - Bad weather again dashed hopes Saturday of reaching a plane missing in Antarctica with three Canadians aboard, but rescuers said they managed to set up camp in the general area of the downed aircraft.

High winds and heavy cloud cover have hampered efforts to find the Twin Otter, which went missing in a remote mountain range on Wednesday while on a supply run from the South Pole to Italy's Antarctic base at Terra Nova Bay.

A second Twin Otter had landed at Beardmore Glacier, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the crash site, and established a base camp from which searchers will attempt to reach the plane, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) said.

It said two helicopters were en route to the camp from New Zealand's Scott base and would wait for a break in the weather before trying to find the aircraft.

Transmissions from an emergency beacon indicate the plane is located at an altitude of 3,900 metres (13,000 feet) in the Queen Alexandra mountain range.

There has been no contact with the crew since the plane disappeared and low clouds have prevented fixed-wing aircraft from making visual contact.

The plane belongs to Canada's Kenn Borek Air, a firm based in Calgary that charters aircraft to the US Antarctic programme, and is equipped with survival equipment, including mountain tents and supplies sufficient for five days.

The RCCNZ is coordinating the search, with cooperation from US and Italian authorities in Antarctica, because the Queen Alexandra range lies in its rescue zone. - Sapa-AFP

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