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No survivors found after float plane crashes with three on board north of Port Hardy

The plane is presumed to have sunk, said B.C. RCMP spokesman Cpl. Alex Berube. RCMP teams are working locate the aircraft.
A file photo of a Cormorant helicopter. MARITIME FORCES PACIFIC

No survivors have been located after a Cessna float plane carrying two passengers and a pilot crashed near Strachan Bay, about 28 nautical miles northwest of Port Hardy, on Wednesday. 

The plane is presumed to have sunk, said B.C. RCMP spokesman Cpl. Alex Berube. 

“The RCMP and Transportation Safety Board are both conducting parallel investigations to determine what may have caused the plane to go down.” 

RCMP West Coast Marine Services and the RCMP Dive Team are also working to locate the aircraft. 

Port Hardy RCMP was notified of the crash by Victoria’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday. Two passengers were being transported from a logging camp back to Port Hardy. 

The initial report about the incident was made about 12:50 p.m. 

The plane that went down belonged to Air Cab, said Joel Eilertsen, president of the float plane company based in Coal Harbour. 

“I can’t say much,” he said. “We don’t know what happened yet.” 

Maritime Forces Pacific Lt.-Cmdr. Diane Larose said a Cormorant helicopter and a lifeboat from the Port Hardy coast guard station responded to the report of the crash. 

“The … helicopter was the first one on scene,” she said. “They spotted an oil slick and a bit of debris.” 

She said a lifeboat and crew were lowered from the helicopter to assess the scene. 

“They determined there were no signs of life and any further extraction efforts were beyond their capabilities.” 

The case was turned over to the RCMP at that point, Larose said. 

On Sept. 4, a float plane crash near Whidbey Island in Washington state killed all 10 people aboard. The Friday Harbor Seaplanes Otter aircraft was headed from Friday Harbor to the Seattle suburb of Renton when it went down without a distress call being sent. The cause is believed to be mechanical.

In April, a commercial pilot hauling wood products was killed in a helicopter crash near Sayward, about 75 kilometres north of Campbell River. The helicopter, owned by Parksville-based Kestrel Helicopters, was a type commonly used to take cedar shake blocks out of the woods. 

A 2019 floatplane crash about 100 km north of Port Hardy that killed four people was linked to poor weather and pilot fatigue in a 2021 Transportation Safety Board report. The Cessna 208 Caravan floatplane left Vancouver airport’s water aerodrome and struck hills on Addenbroke Island. 

Another five people were injured in the flight to a fishing lodge. 

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