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Last Updated: Monday, 25 August, 2003, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Search for South Pole hero
By Bruce Whitehead
BBC correspondent

Arctic North Pole
A mini submarine may search the Arctic waters
Norway is considering sending a submarine to search the Arctic seabed for the wreck of a seaplane in which the explorer Roald Amundsen - the first man to reach the South Pole - is believed to have died in 1928.

The fisheries minister said he would personally bring pressure for a search as soon as possible, after a chart was found earlier this year which could mark the position of the aircraft.

A slab of driftwood and a fisherman's chart may be the crucial pieces of evidence which finally help to put to rest the mystery of what happened to Amundsen - who beat the British explorer Captain Robert Scott in a race to the South Pole in 1911.

Amundsen went missing in June 1928 while searching for a fellow explorer, an Italian member of an airship crew which had itself disappeared in the Arctic.

His French-built seaplane is believed to have crashed near Bear Island in about 100 metres (yards) of water.

Fishing boat clue

Earlier this year, a chart was discovered from a Norwegian fishing boat, marking the spot where in 1933 it had snared a three metre object - possibly from the plane's wing.

Tantalisingly, the object slipped away and disappeared into the sea.

The five men from the 1912 Scott Expedition to the South Pole
Amundsen beat Scott to the South Pole
Recently, a retired Norwegian seal-hunter recalled how he had used a piece of driftwood - which could have been part of the plane - in 1964 to repair a hut on a remote island, 1,200 kilometres (745 miles) from the North Pole.

Torbjoern Pedersen has only now made the link with Amundsen.

Now the Norwegian Fisheries Minister Svein Ludvigsen, says Norway has a national responsibility to discover the fate of one of its famous sons.

He said he would personally bring pressure to carry out a search with a mini submarine as soon as possible.

An expert from the Norwegian Aviation Museum said a survey could start as early as next spring, perhaps finally putting to rest the mystery of what happened to Amundsen.


SEE ALSO:
Fighting for their hero
05 Jul 03  |  Science/Nature
Goss prepares for polar mission
04 Jul 03  |  Cornwall
Plumber wanted in Antarctic
26 Apr 03  |  England


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