A Chilean air force transport plane Friday flew the bodies of eight Americans killed in a New Year's Eve plane crash in the Antarctic to the capital of Santiago for return to the United States this weekend.
The arrival of the coffins in the Chilean capital was delayed because the autopsies conducted in Punta Arenas took longer than expected to complete, the officials said.
The eight men died Tuesday when their chartered 10-seat plane crashed into a mountain while trying to land on an Antarctic island in a blizzard.
The group of tourists had planned to spend New Year's Eve at a Chilean air force base on the South Shetland Islands at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
U.S. Consular Officer Larry Hoffman, who accompanied the coffins in the Hercules transport for the flight to Santiago, said that next of kin had been contacted and that the bodies would be flown to the United States over the weekend.
The dead were identified as: Ben Callis, Key West, Fla.; Irving Lembrecht, Los Angeles; Wayne Riddle, Buchanan, Mich.; Tim Lang, Carmichael, Calif.; James M. Jasper, Oxnard, Calif.; Walter P. Michael, Columbus, Ohio; James C. Howell, Yellow Springs, Ohio and Paul R. Cox, New York City.