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An Air Tindi float base is shown in Yellowknife on Oct. 4, 2011.James MacKenzie/The Canadian Press

Ten people were rescued Thursday after a small plane crashed in a remote area of the Northwest Territories and they were stranded overnight.

David Lavallee, a spokesman with 1 Canadian Air Division and Canadian Norad Region Headquarters, said everyone was picked up from the crash site and taken to the nearby Diavik diamond mine. Some were injured.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton started the search-and-rescue operation Wednesday, after the Air Tindi Otter aircraft crashed about 16 kilometres southeast of the mine.

Air Tindi president Chris Reynolds said three helicopters were sent to the scene at first light. Those rescued were later to be taken to Yellowknife.

Reynolds said the plane, which had two pilots and eight passengers on a private charter, went down just before it was set to land Wednesday afternoon.

“It appears to have had an accident right beside its intended destination, which was a frozen lake,” he said.

“The aircraft was supposed to be landing there, and we got a message on our satellite tracking that there was an emergency that the pilots would have activated.”

Reynolds said it was cold and windy in the area, about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, which hampered an immediate rescue.

A Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules search-and-rescue aircraft was dispatched to the site from 17 Wing Winnipeg. It arrived Wednesday night.

“It was very challenging conditions – 70 km/h winds – and they circled overtop for quite a while before three search-and-rescue technicians parachuted into the site. From there, they updated every two hours throughout the night with passenger and flight crew condition,” said Reynolds, noting temperatures dropped to about -15 C.

“They had heated tents that were set up fairly well to wait for first light.”

Lavallee said Royal Canadian Air Force search-and rescue technicians are highly trained first response and survival experts.

“They were able to assess the 10 people on the ground, provide initial medical care, and build shelter to await extraction,” he said in an e-mail.

Six people had minor injuries, while two had moderate to serious injuries but were showing signs of improvement.

Reynolds said Air Tindi would work with the Transportation Safety Board to determine what caused the crash.

The safety board said it would be deploying an investigation team to the site.

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