Four confirmed dead in Antarctic helicopter crash

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All four people on a French helicopter that crashed this week in rough weather in Antarctica were confirmed dead today, Australian and French rescuers said.

Another helicopter from Dumont-d'Urville scientific station in Antarctica flew to the site of the crashed aircraft and a doctor on board confirmed the deaths, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a statement.

The helicopter crashed on Thursday night and its distress beacon was activated about 62 miles from Dumont-d'Urville. Heavy clouds obscuring visibility prevented searches by helicopter, so a US Air Force C17 and an Australian air force plane flew over the site.

The Australian plane spotted what appeared to be three bodies on Friday evening and dropped survival equipment in case there were any survivors.

Those aircraft carried four French citizens — a pilot, a mechanic and two employees of the French Polar Institute, a state-run research center often known by its French acronym IPEV.

The institute said the bodies of the men were recovered and brought back to Dumont-d'Urville with the assistance of a Hercules C130 sent by Australia.

"A chapel of rest has been set up at the base to receive the remains," the statement said.

The downed AS350 Squirrel helicopter was operated in Antarctica from the French research vessel, L'Astrolabe, which is currently icebound about 230 miles northeast of the Dumont-d'Urville station.