Uncertainty over body recovery

Attempts to recover the bodies of three Canadian airmen killed in an Antarctic plane crash will continue today, with the close-knit community on the ice devastated by the deaths.

Wreckage of the Kenn Borek Air plane carrying the men was discovered by rescue officials on Saturday, after the Twin Otter aircraft went missing on Wednesday night.

The plane's locator beacon had been set off about halfway between the South Pole and McMurdo Station, with dense cloud, snow and winds up to 170kmh hampering initial rescue efforts.

Officials leading the attempt to recover the men's bodies said the wreckage was on a very steep slope close to the summit of Mt Elizabeth, with the cause of the crash yet to be determined.

Antarctica New Zealand operations and infrastructure manager Graeme Ayres said field teams had set up at Beardmore Glacier and got close to the wreckage site yesterday.

Ayres said the crews would spend another day at the site today, with the fate of the bodies still to be decided. He said the "close-knit" Antarctic community had been rocked by the loss of the men, which had reminded them of the dangerous conditions they faced.

Michael Parfit, a Canadian journalist and film-maker who reported from Antarctica on several trips between 1983 and 1996, said the country was mourning the loss of the crew. 

- with Fairfax

Fairfax Media