13 Sep 2010

Antarctic rescue flight hopes dashed again

4:04 pm on 13 September 2010

Hopes of a rescue flight to Antarctica to pick up an extremely ill American man have been dashed again by strong winds and snow.

On Sunday a blizzard with temperatures as low as minus 42 degrees celsius forced a New Zealand Air Force Orion to turn back to Christchurch because landing at McMurdo Base was considered too dangerous.

The flight was rescheduled for Monday morning but bad weather near McMurdo base has kept the plane from taking off.

A spokesperson from McMurdo Station, Terry Melton, says conditions on the ice were still too risky for a plane to land safely.

The man's condition has stabilised, but doctors at McMurdo say he must still be taken to Christchurch Hospital. Details of what he is suffering from have not been made public.

The man works for Raytheon, which is contracted to provide logistical and operations support to McMurdo Station.

A decision on whether to attempt another flight will be made on Tuesday morning. Flights are only allowed to and from the base during limited daylight hours.