Canadian pilot dies after falling into Antarctic crevasse

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A veteran Canadian helicopter pilot died at an Australian Antarctic base a day after he landed his chopper on an ice shelf, stepped out of the aircraft and plunged into a crevasse, officials said Tuesday.

David Wood, 62, was working on a fuel-loading operation on the remote ice shelf Monday when he got out of the helicopter and fell 20 meters (66 feet), Australian Antarctic Division director Nick Gales said.

Wood was rescued several hours later but died of his injuries Tuesday. The ice shelf is 104 miles (167 kilometers) northeast of Australia's Davis Station. Wood was working with the Australian government's Antarctic program at the station.

Wood was flying one of two helicopters owned by Australian company Helicopter Resources that had delivered fuel drums to a depot on the West Ice Shelf before the two pilots landed, Gales said.

After Wood fell, the pilot of the second helicopter flew back to Davis Station for help.

A three-member rescue team from the station was able to retrieve Wood, then flew him by helicopter to a medical facility at Davis in critical condition. He died on Tuesday as officials planned an air evacuation to Australia.

"Mr. Wood had more than 30 years experience as a pilot and had worked extensively in both the Antarctic and Arctic," Gales said in a statement.

The Australian Antarctic Division had been in regular contact with Wood's family since the accident and was working to return his body to Australia at the earliest opportunity, the statement said.

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