Poor weather grounded investigators trying to reach the wreckage of a float plane on western Vancouver Island on Saturday, and officials said any new information on the crash site was not expected until Sunday at the earliest.
Bill Yearwood of the Transportation Safety Board said Saturday evening that the RCMP and the BC Coroners Service were still making their way by land to the site, after air travel was ruled out due to unsafe conditions.
Two people were killed in the Friday morning crash — there were four survivors, though one is in hospital in critical condition.
None of their identities have been released.
Police said the cause of the crash is still being investigated, but there is no indication of foul play.
The plane’s operator, Air Nootka, said Saturday it was dealing with “an unfortunate incident involving one of its De Havilland Beaver float planes” in a statement posted on the company’s website.
An employee reached by phone said Air Nootka would not be commenting further at this time.
“All Air Nootka aircraft are professionally maintained to the highest standards by an independent company,” the statement reads.
“Safety is Air Nootka’s number one priority and the company is compliant with all federal and provincial regulations.”
The float plane left Hesquiaht Lake, about 85 kilometres northwest of Tofino, but an emergency beacon was activated minutes after takeoff and the plane crashed soon afterward.
Police said the plane was carrying five hikers and was en route to Gold River, about 40 kilometres to the northeast.
The crash triggered a search that involved multiple aircraft, as well as an RCMP vessel, but difficult terrain and poor weather hampered those efforts. The plane’s wreckage was later discovered just north of the lake.
Local First Nations bands also helped in the search, with members of the Hesquiaht, Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht scouring the water, shore and inland.
Cpl. Darren Lagan of the Tofino RCMP said it was a difficult search.
“It’s a fairly dense forested area,” he said.
There was “rain falling, there’s some light wind in the area and limited visibility. The waters are described as being rough — not terribly dangerous seas, but certainly higher than you would typically see in the summer months.”
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