Erebus disaster recovery work during blizzard

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

Community contributions

6 comments have been posted about Erebus disaster recovery work during blizzard

What do you know?

Jamie M

Posted: 10 Apr 2019

It was written by Imelda Bargas and published in 2007


Posted: 09 Apr 2019

who wrote this and when was it published ??????????

Imelda Bargas

Posted: 04 Apr 2013

Thanks for your comment Joseph. I recall seeing your name in the archival documents when putting together the feature. We would welcome any further information you have to add.

joseph madrid

Posted: 02 Apr 2013

I was the crew chief of the UH-1N who inserted and recovered the climbers at the crash site. A hard day for us all.

Imelda Bargas

Posted: 12 Mar 2013

Thanks very much for your comment Tony. The material re the team's coordinator Audrey Muir, Carrington psychologist came from the Dominion, 1/12/79 and NZ Herald, 30/11/79. She is also referred to as the centre coordinator Audrey Muir in an Auckland Star article around the time of the anniversary on 27/11/1981. Should we look at another source?

Tony O'Brien

Posted: 10 Mar 2013

The page below refers to the Erebus crash. I think the person who coordinated the grief crisis team was Audrey Walsh, mental health nurses, not Audrey Muir, psychologist.