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Officials halt efforts to recover bodies of Canadians in Antarctica crash

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Officials have called off efforts to recover the bodies of three Canadians after a plane crash in Antarctica, saying it would be unsafe to further disturb the wreckage.

One of the agencies investigating the deadly crash says poor winter weather will delay the recovery operation until the next Antarctic research season, which coincides with the polar region's period of 24-hour sunlight.

Peter West of the U.S. National Science Foundation says rescue crews have retrieved some equipment from the Twin Otter aircraft, which is largely embedded in steep slope near the summit of Mount Elizabeth on the Queen Alexandra range

Among those items is the cockpit voice recorder, a tool that should help aviation authorities learn more about what caused the plane to go down.

The New Zealand Rescue Co-Ordination Centre has said the aircraft appears to have been on course but may have turned too early while flying through a mountain range.

The plane is operated by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air and was reported missing after it failed to reach its destination on Wednesday.

The pilot has been identified by friends as Bob Heath of Inuvik while media reports have identified a second crew member as Mike Denton, a newlywed from Calgary whose photographs of planes appear on the Kenn Borek website.

The third crew member has not been identified.

The Transportation Safety Board said that since the Twin Otter was operated by a Canadian company, officials here have already started working on a probe into the crash.

Spokeswoman Julie Leroux said Canadian investigators have collected data and conducted interviews, but it may not be possible for them to reach the remote crash site.

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