Fox Glacier recovery hindered by weather conditions

  • 23/11/2015

Police say weather has prevented any further recovery of the remaining bodies on Fox Glacier today after a helicopter crash on Saturday killed six tourists and a pilot.

Recovery teams have established plans for safe staging of crews on the glacier when the operation is able to resume.

Two Australians, four Britons and a Kiwi pilot died in the crash at the popular South Island tourist spot.

Police recovered three bodies yesterday by winching them out with a helicopter during a patch of clear weather.

They have been taken to Christchurch and are likely to undergo post mortem examinations tomorrow.

But difficult conditions set in again, and police say it could be as late as Wednesday before they get another chance to remove the last four victims.

It's a dangerous operation, Inspector John Canning says.

"While we're determined to return these people to their families, this will be a complex and technical task with an emphasis on the safety of those involved."

The family of Hampshire couple Nigel Edwin Charlton, 66, and Cynthia Charlton, 70, killed in the crash say they were adventurous when it came to travel.

"This holiday was to be their last big adventure together," the family said in a statement.

"We are grateful that they remain travelling together but heartbroken that their new itinerary started the way that it did."

They thanked the "brave" recovery teams and said they understood their safety needed to come first.

The couple had two children and three grandchildren.

Another victim, 51-year-old Katharine Walker, was the head of radiotherapy at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

She was killed along with her partner Andrew Virco, 50.

A spokesman for Cambridge University Hospitals, which runs Addenbrooke's, said: "Everyone at the hospital is devastated by the news and our thoughts go out to Kath's family at this very sad time.

"Kath was a much respected member of staff who had worked at Addenbrooke's for 23 years. We know many of our staff are going to be hit hard by this tragic news and we will be offering additional support for them."

The pilot was Mitchell Paul Gameren, 28, from Queenstown.

The Australian victims were Leang Sovannmony, 27, and Josephine Gibson, 29, from New South Wales.