Press release

Helicopter crashed in Antarctica near the German research station Neumayer II

[02. March 2008] 

Two passengers were killed, three injured.

Bremerhaven, 2nd March, 2008. This Sunday morning one of the two helicopters of the German research vessel “Polarstern” crashed near the German Antarctic research station Neumayer II. The thirty-seven-year-old pilot and a forty-five-year-old Dutch scientist were killed, three passengers (a French woman, twenty-five years of age, a German being twenty-four and another Dutch person being twenty-seven years old) injured, two of them severely but being out of perilous condition. Families of the casualties have already been informed. The injured are medically treated in the hospital aboard “Polarstern”. They will be evacuated from Antarctica to South Africa as soon as weather conditions will allow to do so. According to current forecasts, however, this won´t be possible before the 5th of March. The reason for the accident is not yet known. The helicopter crashed during a flight from “Polarstern” to the Neumayer station, weather conditions at the time of the accident were good.

"I am deeply shaken by this disaster," Professor Karin Lochte, Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, says. "I offer my heartfelt condolences and sympathy to the victims’ relatives. Such a calamity has never happened before at the Neumayer station. We wish everyone on board and at the station the strength to master this difficult situation, and we hope that the injured will recover soon.“
 
R/V "Polarstern" is on her 24th Antarctic expedition. She left Kapstadt on 10th February. A short stop at the shelf ice edge was planned to supply the Neumayer station. “Polarstern“ is now likely to stay near the Neumayer station until 5th  March. The expedition will then be continued and will end as scheduled in Punta Arenas/Chile on 16th April. At the German Antarctic station construction work for the new station Neumayer III is presently drawing to a close. The site is being prepared for the Antarctic winter. The construction team was not involved in the disaster and will prospectively leave the Antarctic next week.

More information can be found in the status report of the Alfred Wegener Institute.

Notes for editors
Your contact persons are Prof. Dr. Karin Lochte, Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute (Tel: 0471/4831-1100, E-Mail: karin.lochte@awi.de), and Prof. Dr. Heinrich Miller, Deputy Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute (Tel.: 0471/4831-1210, E-Mail: heinrich.miller@awi.de). Your contact person in the public relations department is Margarete Pauls (Tel.: 0471/4831-1180; E-Mail: medien@awi.de). Please send us a copy of any published version of this document.

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Das Institut

Das Alfred-Wegener-Institut forscht in den Polarregionen und Ozeanen der mittleren und hohen Breiten. Als eines von 19 Forschungszentren der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft koordiniert es Deutschlands Polarforschung und stellt Schiffe wie den Forschungseisbrecher Polarstern und Stationen für die internationale Wissenschaft zur Verfügung.