Polar experts among quake missing

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 08:28 24/02/2011

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Antarctic researchers and others linked to the US National Science Foundation's (NSF) Christchurch operation are among those missing in the wake of this week's devastating earthquake.

The US Antarctic Program says on its website that its flights scheduled for McMurdo Sound will be reviewed.

"NSF expresses its deepest sympathy to the people of Christchurch who have been affected by this latest tragedy, especially coming as it does just months after the severe earthquake last fall," the website says.

"NSF is deeply concerned about the welfare of those people affiliated with Antarctic Program who, as yet, have not been accounted for and remains hopeful that they will be discovered to be safe and sound."

They said 60 per cent of the people affiliated with the programme had been found safe.

"The balance of those as yet unaccounted for includes some mix of NSF-funded researchers and other personnel.

"Many of those unaccounted for may be on personal travel within New Zealand, but not necessarily in Christchurch."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Christchurch and New Zealand," said Karl Erb, who heads NSF's polar programmes.

"Many of us have friends and family in that beautiful city, and we are heartbroken over this tragedy.

"We are doing everything possible - and will continue to work diligently - until all of our folks are accounted for," he added.

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