Rescue Effort Underway for Antarctic Twin Otter Crew

Officials hope search begins once weather improves.



A powerful Antarctic storm with 100-mph winds and heavy snow is impeding rescue efforts for the crew of a Canadian Twin Otter. The de Havilland twin turboprop is assumed to have gone down in mountains at roughly 13,000 feet above sea level Wednesday night on a flight from the South Pole to an Italian base on the coast of Antarctica.

Kenn Borek Air, based in Calgary, operates the Twin Otter, and the three Canadians that make up the crew are the subject of the rescue effort. A U.S. C-130 Hercules flying overhead has detected a signal from the aircraft’s emergency beacon, but was unable to make visual contact due to the weather. Rescuers are hoping for better weather on Saturday, and a pair of helicopters and a fixed-wing rescue aircraft are standing by. The Twin Otter carried survival equipment, but overflights have not been able to establish radio contact, and the emergency beacon stopped transmitting Thursday night, though that could have been a matter of the batteries running down.

Kenn Borek Air is remembered for its own 2001 dramatic rescue of a doctor at the South Pole, who was in desperate need of medical attention for pancreatitis.