A U.S. Navy Hercules C-130 transport plane based at Point Mugu and carrying 11 people crashed on an icy airstrip in Antarctica Tuesday, U.S. Embassy personnel in Christchurch, New Zealand, said. Three people were feared dead.
Embassy spokesman Mike Gould said the the ski-equipped plane was attached to the California-based Antarctica Development Squadron 6.
According to Pacific Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Jim Mitchell at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the accident occurred as the aircraft was attempting a ski landing 750 miles northwest of McMurdo Station.
The plane was part of a project that intends to excavate another airplane that was damaged during takeoff 15 years ago.
Ham radio operators quoted by the New Zealand Press Assn. said they heard reports that eight people had been accounted for and three people were feared dead in the wreckage. The operators were monitoring radio communications from a U.S. base at McMurdo Station.
The cause of the crash was not known, but radio operators said it appeared to be wind shear or sudden shifts in the wind.