New Zealand honours Antarctica plane crash search team

The rescue team that tried to recover the bodies of three Canadians who died in a plane crash in Antarctica is being celebrated for their bravery.

Joint U.S.-New Zealand team recovered flight data boxes from wreckage on side of mountain

The wreckage from a Canadian plane that crashed in Antarctica on Jan. 23, 2013, killing three Canadians on board. (Drew Coleman/Antarctica NZ/Canadian Press)

The rescue team that tried to recover the bodies of three Canadians who died in a plane crash in Antarctica is being commended for their bravery.

Bob Heath of Inuvik, N.W.T., Michael Denton of Calgary and Perry Anderson of Collingwood, Ont., died when their Kenn Borek Air Twin Otter crashed into the side of Antarctica's Mount Elizabeth in January 2013.

A group of six search and rescue workers from New Zealand and the United States tried to recover the bodies of the three men, but dangerous weather conditions forced them to stop the search.

The group was celebrated recently at the New Zealand Search and Rescue Awards.

"We were very privileged to receive this award, obviously under tragic circumstances," said Graeme Ayres, director of operations for Antarctica New Zealand, one of the two organizations involved in the search.

"It remains a constant disappointment to us that we couldn't recover the remains of their loved ones."

The plane crashed about 4,000 metres above sea level. A dangerous high-altitude helicopter flight dropped members of the search and rescue team on a mountain ridge and they climbed down to the wreckage.

The team was able to uncover the tail of the plane and recover the flight data boxes, but deep snow prevented them from locating the bodies. They also recovered a number of personal items, including a wallet, passport and some clothing.