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Researcher dies after falling into Antarctica crevasse

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Monday, October 24, 2016, 5:27 PM - An Antarctic researcher has died after falling through a crevasse on the frozen continent over the weekend.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) says Dr. Gordon Hamilton, of the University of Maine, was fatally injured when his snowmobile tumbled 30 m into a crevasse, around 40 km away from the U.S. research base McMurdo Station.

Hamilton's body has been recovered, and an investigation into the incident has been launched.

"The death of one of our colleagues is a tragic reminder of the risks we all face -- no matter how hard we work at mitigating those risks -- in field research," Dr. Kelly K. Falkner, director of the NSF's Division of Polar Programs, said in a statement posted to Facebook.

Related: Canadian planes fly ailing Antarctic workers to safety

Hamilton was studying the McMurdo and Ross ice shelves, using ground-penetrating radar aboard two robots, the NSF says. He and his team were camped in an area where the two shelves collide, known to be heavily crevassed.

Researchers in Antarctica are trained to spot crevasses, and the NSF says Hamilton and other research teams in the area did include experienced mountaineers who had found and filled in several crevasses recently. 

Still, accidents do occur. In January this year, a 62-year-old Canadian helicopter pilot working for the Australian Antarctic Division fell into a crevasse after landing on an ice shelf to retrieve some sling equipment. Rescuers managed to extract and rush him to base for critical care, but he did not survive.

WATCH BELOW: The mystery of Antarctica's 'Blood Falls', explained

SOURCE: National Science Foundation

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