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Canadian pilot dies in Antarctica

Davis station from the air, Antarctica. An injured pilot medically evacuated to Australia's Davis station after falling into a crevasse on a remote ice shelf in Antarctica. (AAP Image/Australian Antarctic Division)

Davis station from the air, Antarctica. An injured pilot medically evacuated to Australia’s Davis station after falling into a crevasse on a remote ice shelf in Antarctica. (AAP Image/Australian Antarctic Division)

Melbourne [AAP]

A Canadian helicopter pilot has died after falling down an icy crevasse near an Australian research station in Antarctica.

David Wood, 62, fell 20 metres into the crevasse after landing on a remote ice shelf near Australia’s Davis station on Monday evening.

Mr Wood is a contracted employee with the Australian Antarctic program at Davis station.

He was rescued by an emergency response team after lying in the crevasse for at least two hours.

The Canadian was then flown to a medical facility at the nearby station, where he died.

Australian Antarctic Division director Nick Gales expressed the division’s sincere condolences to Mr Wood’s family.

‘Mr Wood was a respected colleague and friend to many in the Australian Antarctic program, with which he has been involved for a number of years,’ Dr Gales said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Mr Wood had more than 30 years’ experience as a pilot and had worked extensively in the Antarctic and Arctic, Dr Giles said.

He said Mr Wood had received the best possible medical care from highly trained doctors at the base, supported by an ‘enormous’ network of medical advice.

‘Working in Antarctica is always very dangerous, especially in the remote field,’ he told reporters in Hobart earlier on Tuesday.

‘It is in the nature of the work that these incidents can happen.’

The fall occurred when two helicopters were sling-loading fuel to a depot on the West Ice Shelf, 90 nautical miles north east of Davis station.

The two pilots had landed on the remote ice shelf after dropping the fuel drums at the depot site.

Mr Wood fell down the crevasse after leaving his aircraft, while the second pilot, unable to help, contacted Davis station and flew back for help.

The 62-year-old, who had ‘extensive’ Antarctic experience, remained down the crevasse for around two to three hours, Mr Gales said.


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