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Argentines investigate botched, filmed rescue

PROSECUTORS are investigating a failed attempt to rescue an Argentine climbing guide from a blinding snowstorm on the highest peak in the Americas after a video of the rescue expedition aired on national television in Argentina.

The near three-minute video shows 31-year-old Federico Campanini struggling on his hands and knees as he was tugged forward on a rope by five rescuers.

For much of the video rescuers appear to be standing idle next to a collapsed Campanini, doing little more than comment that he was close to death. The footage raised a public outcry that rescuers could have done more on Aconcagua mountain.

But police say rescuers never left Campanini's side and a coordinator of the effort said the team itself was near exhaustion in sub-zero, oxygen-depleted air after racing up the mountain. The video shows crew members stumbling and picks up the sound of the cameraman's frantic breathing as the crew barely inches forward.

The two policemen and four volunteers on the rescue team were not speaking to the news media yesterday.

The guide's parents, Carlos and Monica Campanini, cited the video as proof that the six-member rescue crew allowed their son to die without doing enough.

Carlos Campanini said the video, which was anonymously delivered to his lawyer a week ago, was excruciating to watch.

"The people who were around him let him down," Campanini said. "My son did everything he could to save himself. He had his plans, his family and his wife."

Antonio Ibaceta, who coordinated the operations from base camp for the Mendoza police force, said the short video must be understood in the context of a 30-hour rescue effort, in minus 50 Celsius temperatures.


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