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Erebus disaster recovery work during blizzard


Recovery work among the debris of Air New Zealand Flight TE901 on Mt Erebus continued even in terrible weather conditions. The original caption to this photograph reads: ‘Hugh Logan below main fuselage. Strong ground blizzard blowing through wreckage’.

No survivors

Final confirmation that there were no survivors came on the morning after the crash. At approximately 9.45 a.m. NZST* on 29 November 1979, three New Zealand mountaineers, Keith Woodford, Hugh Logan and Daryl Thompson, were lowered onto the crash site by a US Navy UH-1N helicopter. At approximately 10.30 a.m. NZST it was reported back to Mac Centre, the US Navy's air traffic control centre at McMurdo Station, that they had signalled that there were no survivors.

Special edition:

On the afternoon of 29 November the Otago Daily Times, which had not altered the headline in its morning edition to reflect the discovery of the wreckage, issued a free special edition. The 26,000 copies in the first and second press runs were all snapped up.

Mac Centre transmitted this news to the Operation Deep Freeze base in Christchurch and at 12.23 p.m. NZDT the base's Press Liaison Officer, Mike Hatcher, issued a brief statement confirming that 'everybody that was on that aircraft has died'. Radio bulletins and the afternoon editions of newspapers reported this news and further details subsequently provided by the mountaineers.

Grief crisis centre

In the immediate aftermath of the Erebus disaster a grief crisis team was set up at Carrington Hospital, Auckland, to provide counselling to the families of victims. The team's coordinator, Carrington psychologist Audrey Muir, encouraged the bereaved to talk about their feelings, noting that this would hasten ‘the passing of acute grief’. The centre closed for face-to-face counselling after approximately a week but continued to take calls from anyone in need.

On the day of the Erebus disaster there was a one-hour time difference between New Zealand and McMurdo Station. McMurdo Station was operating under New Zealand Standard Time (NZST), while New Zealand was operating under daylight saving or New Zealand Daylight Time (NZDT). Scott Base and McMurdo Station did not begin observing daylight saving until the summer of 1992/93.

Part of: Hearing the news


Image: Archives New Zealand, Te Rua Mahara o te Kawanatanga, Christchurch Regional Office
Reference: CAHU CH282/Box13/9 Large black and white prints of crash site operations December 1979 [with captions], 1979.  Antarctic Division photo, Colin Monteath

How to cite this page

Erebus disaster recovery work during blizzard, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated