The bodies of the victims of Air New Zealand Flight TE901 were flown by Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules aircraft to Whenuapai Air Base in Auckland.
By 8 December 1979 the Erebus disaster recovery operation was finishing up, but bad weather delayed the evacuation of the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) teams and the last loads of bodies, remains and personal belongings until later that evening. Then on 9 December, with the evacuation in progress, Captain Tony Foley and Captain Peter Rhodes from the NZ Airline Pilots Association, who were assisting with the site investigation, came across another body while examining the cockpit flight panel. This was the last body retrieved. At around 6 p.m. the following day the last team left the crash site.
By 10 December the site investigation and recovery operation in Antarctica was complete. The investigators had recovered the Cockpit Voice Recorder, Digital Flight Data Recorder and other instruments, including the cockpit flight panel. The DVI teams had recovered 114 substantially intact bodies, 133 bags of human remains, and countless personal belongings. But many more weeks of work lay ahead in New Zealand — completing the investigation and identifying the victims.
Next page: Initial steps