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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 December, 2003, 22:00 GMT
Antarctic crash pilots found safe
Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill
The Polar First mission is expected to take more than five months
Two British helicopter pilots missing in Antarctica have been found and are receiving hospital treatment in Chile.

Jennifer Murray, 63, and Colin Bodill, 54, were attempting to be the first to fly around the globe in a helicopter via South and North poles.

RAF Kinloss in Scotland raised the alarm at 0100 GMT and an RAF centre in the Falklands launched a rescue.

Mrs Murray has a broken arm and co-pilot Mr Bodill is suffering from chest injuries.

'Good spirits'

The expedition website earlier said Mr Bodill had "sustained an injury in the accident typical of those received in high-impact crashes and there is concern about his wellbeing".

But Polar First spokeswoman Sara Tye said both were in "good spirits".

They reached the South Pole in Mrs Murray's helicopter, a Bell 407, earlier this week at the start of their 33,000-mile (53,000km) trip.

Jennifer Murray
Ms Murray is already a record-breaker
The helicopter went down 120 miles (193km) north of Patriot Hills on the northern section of the Ronne Ice Shelf.

Poor weather was reportedly preventing a rescue aircraft circling overhead from landing.

But they pitched a tent in temperatures as low as -40C while they waited for help.

When it arrived, they were first taken to a private Antarctic base at Patriot Hills.

Later, they were flown to hospital in Punta Arenas in Chile where they were met from the plane by a British consul and escorted to hospital.

Mrs Murray, from Frome, Somerset, earlier this week writing in her online diary, described landing at the Pole as a "nightmare" due to the freezing winds.

Royal friend

The Polar First mission is expected to take more than five months and includes 160 stop-offs en route to highlight the work of the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The Duchess of York, an old friend of Mrs Murray who she knows as Jeffa, said she was "delighted and relieved" the pair had been found safe.

Nature always has the last word
Duchess of York
She said in a statement: "As always the rescue teams have been extraordinary and everyone is so grateful for all that they have done.

"I know this won't deter Jeffa from trying again and it certainly won't be her last adventure - although both of them will be more than aware that nature always has the last word."

Mrs Murray and Mr Bodill set off from New York on 22 October, waved off on the trip by the Duchess, who is official patron of the Polar First team.

They reached Antarctica earlier this month and were about to head up the west coast of the American continents to the North Pole before finishing in New York in April.

In 2000, Mrs Murray set the world record for the fastest female solo helicopter flight around the world.

Last Saturday, she met her businessman husband Simon Murray, who is bidding to become the oldest man to walk 850 miles (1,368km) overland to the South Pole unsupported.

He is accompanied on his trip by Arctic explorer Pen Hadow.

The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"Between them they hold a number of aviation records"

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