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Bulgarian Navy hands over parts of 1976 Argentine plane crash found in Antarctica

Saturday, February 24th 2024 - 11:09 UTC
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The retrieved items were handed over during a ceremony onboard the Bulgarian ship The retrieved items were handed over during a ceremony onboard the Bulgarian ship
The Neptune aircraft was assisting the ARA General San Martín icebreaker during the 1976-77 Antarctic campaign The Neptune aircraft was assisting the ARA General San Martín icebreaker during the 1976-77 Antarctic campaign

The Bulgarian Navy's Brothers Cyril and Methodius scientific vessel docked in Mar del Plata this week to hand over pieces of an Argentine Navy aircraft that crashed in Antarctica in 1976 with ten military personnel and a television crewman on board. The items, found on Jan. 15 on Livingston Island, will be taken to a Navy facility in Bahía Blanca to determine if they belong to the twin-engine plane.

The visiting ship headed to Mar del Plata after completing its scientific activities in the Antarctic continent. “During a meeting on board the Bulgarian ship, the handover to the Argentine naval authorities was made official with the signing of an act of reception of the material,” the Argentine Navy said in a statement.

A group of geologists taking samples in the area of Barnard Point on Livingston Island, the second largest of Antarctica's South Shetland Islands, reported the discovery of a series of remains of a military vehicle compatible with an aircraft, which were loaded on the Bulgarian ship, Telam reported. On Jan. 19, a team of mountaineers and researchers returned to the area and recovered more objects.

“Thanks to an inscription in Spanish found on some of the pieces and the image of the 'Sol de Mayo' typical of the rudders of aircraft belonging to the Naval Aviation Component, it was related to the Argentine aircraft Neptune 2-P-103,” the Navy said after Bulgarian authorities reported the find.

The Neptune 2P-103 of the Argentine Navy's Aeronautical and Marine Exploration Squadron crashed on Sept. 15, 1976, during a glaciological reconnaissance flight in Antarctica. The aircraft had taken off from the Río Grande Naval Air Base in the morning to make a reconnaissance flight over the Drake Passage and the South Shetlands Islands in support of the icebreaker ARA General San Martín during the 1976-1977 Antarctic campaign.

The crew consisted of the aircraft captain, Lieutenant Commander Arnaldo Mutto; Navy Lieutenants Miguel Berraz and Romualdo Migliardo; Lieutenant Commander Claudio Cabut; Second Warrant Officers Nelson Villagra, Juan Noto and Remberto Brizuela; Master Corporal Omar Campastri; Lance Corporal Benjamín Scesa; and Rodolfo Rivarola, a cameraman from Ushuaia's Channel 13.

Due to the lack of communication with the plane, an alert was issued hours later, and search and rescue aircraft were dispatched. On Sept. 18, the crash site was located on one of the slopes of Mount Barnard on Livingston Island, and the news was confirmed on Sept. 24 by another low-flying aircraft. The ARA General San Martin arrived in the area on Oct. 4. The Alouette helicopter on board was able to confirm the presence of some wreckage between the mountain and the glacier, but no survivors were found, so it was decided to try to recover the bodies and wreckage of the aircraft during the summer under more favorable weather conditions.

However, when the Argentine Army Bell 212 AE-451 helicopter crashed due to deteriorating weather conditions, killing First Lieutenant Mario García, Lieutenant Alejandro Merani, and Mechanical Sergeant Ricardo Segura, it was decided not to try to recover the bodies again.

(Source: Telam)

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