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Copter crashes during Antarctica science mission; 3 injured

By CNN Staff
December 2, 2013 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Second helicopter team landed and helped the injured
  • Injuries being treated as serious, though trio is "warm and sheltered," officials say
  • Team was returning to Australian-run base from mission to survey penguin colony

(CNN) -- A helicopter carrying scientists on a mission in Antarctica crashed more than 150 miles from their home base Sunday night, injuring three people and sparking what will be a complicated rescue effort on inhospitable terrain, Australian officials said.

The pilot and two passengers were returning from a mission to survey a penguin colony near the polar continent's Amery ice shelf when the helicopter crashed about 150 nautical miles, or 170 statute miles, short of their destination, Antarctica's Davis station, according to the Australian Antarctic Division.

A team that was in a second helicopter landed and was helping the injured "until additional medical support can be flown to the area," the division said on its website Monday.

The injured are "warm and sheltered," but their injuries -- which officials did not specify -- are being treated as serious, the division said.

An aircraft was sent Monday afternoon to look for a place where a different rescue aircraft could land, according to the division.

December is one of the warmest months in Antarctica. The temperature at Davis station Monday night was around 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit), according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The average high December temperature at Davis, Australia's southernmost Antarctic scientific research station, is 2.4 degrees Celsius, or 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

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CNN's Khushbu Shah contributed to this report

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