Skip to main content

Sound clip: radio report from Erebus

Audio file

Hear John Blumsky's Radio New Zealand reports from Mt Erebus (quite hard to hear).


Setting the scene

Today here at Scott Base the ubiquitous scar can be seen through the window of the little telephone booth that I'm in at the moment – out on the ice, the sea ice, which separates out from White Island and Black Island many, many miles away, but they look so close. The other indication here at Scott Base of the tragedy of Air New Zealand's DC-10, which lies scattered over a wide area at the foot of Mt Erebus, 56 kilometres behind me. The mountain, a little larger than Cook, squats perfectly this morning, etched against the endless blue sky with just a gentle purl of smoke emitting from its peak.

This morning a meeting has been held 3 kilometres away at the United States base at McMurdo to plan the salvage. Representatives from Civil Aviation, Antarctic Division of the DSIR, police and so on will decide when to move. Already a twenty-man tent camp has been set up on the crash site. Markers laid out to indicate the numerous crevices. But I don't think that while this weather holds action will be delayed.

John Blumsky for Radio New Zealand

Planning the salvage operation

At this moment a conference is being held at McMurdo Sound, just over the hill from Scott Base here. Representatives from Civil Aviation, police, rescue squads, Antarctic Division DSIR, Air New Zealand. And they will be deciding how the tragic salvage op. is to be handled.

The wreckage is spread over a wide area approximately 600 by 100 metres. It has been marked, a twenty-man camp site has set up with the boundaries flagged. It's felt that the first move will be to find that flight recorder. So a grid will be laid out and an inch-by-inch search made – that's the priority. The bodies of the passengers may lie a little longer.

John Blumsky for Radio New Zealand

Lack of bodies and spread of wreckage

Since 8 o'clock last night a small team from Scott Base has been establishing a twenty-man camp on the crash site at the foot of Mt Erebus. Initial indications show that there are only about a half a dozen sections larger than a wheelbarrow visible. The tail section, a portion of the fuselage, a set of wheels, part of a wing and what looks like the galley stove. The rest is scattered over a wide area in thousands of pieces. Experienced helicopter pilots have said that they are amazed at the immediate absence of bodies. The initial impact, however, caused an inferno that was intense, and it's thought that only 50 to 60 bodies will be recovered. And sitting in the snow, slightly away from the main crash area, the captain's flight bag, untouched.

John Blumsky for Radio New Zealand


Still from Erebus Investigation- Part 5 showing John Blumsky reporting from Antarctica shortly after the Erebus disaster.


Sound file: Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Erebus disaster reports from the ice. Reference no: T7102

Image: still shot from Erebus Disaster investigation - part 5 provided on YouTube by TVNZ OnDemand.

How to cite this page

Sound clip: radio report from Erebus, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated