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Australian, English climbers killed in New Zealand

September 16, 2013

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — One Australian and one English climber have fallen to their deaths in New Zealand, police confirmed Monday.

Police Inspector Dave Gaskin said the two incidents on consecutive days in the Aoraki-Mt. Cook National Park were not related and were not due to bad weather. He said they come as a reminder that climbers need to use extreme caution.

On Friday, Duncan Rait, 36, died after slipping and falling about 60 meters (200 feet) from a ridge high on the Tasman Glacier. The New Zealand-born Australian was planning to do some ski touring. He’d been dropped off by helicopter with a group and was walking to a hut when he fell, sliding down a steep slope and over a cliff.

Gaskin said that other climbers attempted to rescue Rait by taking him down the glacier, but that he died on the way down. He said Rait was an experienced alpine climber.

On Saturday, Englishman Robert Buckley, 31, fell about 700 meters while climbing to a small hut on Mount Sefton with three companions.

Gaskin said Buckley was wearing crampons but he and the others in his group were inexperienced and insufficiently equipped. Police said the other three men were rescued Sunday after spending the night on the mountain.

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