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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 17:46 GMT
Final hunt for lost polar trekker
Helicopter at the North Pole
Helicopters were to have made two trips to supply Ms Arduin
Rescuers are mounting a last-ditch bid to find Dominick Arduin, the woman explorer who went missing 10 days ago on a solo expedition to the North Pole.

A helicopter with an infra-red camera would hunt for Ms Arduin, a spokesman for her support team told AFP agency.

However, "the chances that she is alive are next to zero", he said.

The helicopter will fly on Wednesday or Thursday in search of Ms Arduin, who had planned to become the first woman to ski solo to the North Pole.

Infra-red sensors on the helicopter are expected to confirm whether Ms Arduin survived or not.

If still alive, the heat emitted by her body ought to make her visible to the camera, Christian de Marliave of Paris-based firm Cerpolex said.

If, as feared, she has perished, the camera will not be able to spot her body, he added.

Finnish appeal

The 43-year-old explorer set off on 5 March on a 1,000 kilometre trek to the North Pole.

But her support team lost contact with her just a day later.

She began her journey in northern Russia by rowing across a 55km stretch of the Arctic Ocean to reach firm ice.

From there, she planned to continue on skis.

Ms Arduin was born in France, but now has Finnish citizenship after living in Lapland for the past 15 years.

Finland's government has asked Russian authorities to do whatever they can to find her.

Last year, in a previous attempt to reach the North Pole, she fell into freezing water and had to have her toes amputated after suffering frostbite.

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13 Jan 04  |  London

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