Unlikely coincidence helps Canada plane crash survivors

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Mr. Ferris said the airline is cooperating with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, whose investigators arrived at the scene shortly after Saturday’s crash because they also were in the region for the military exercise. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a team to assist in the investigation because a U.S.-made aircraft was involved.

The RCMP said the plane’s two black boxes had been recovered from the crash site. Forensic identification teams were working to identify the bodies and assist in the investigation.

Aziz Kheraj, the owner of the nearby South Camp Inn, said he had chartered the flight from Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories to Resolute Bay every three weeks for the past six months to bring food and passengers to his hotel.

“It’s a bad time,” Mr.  Kheraj said. “We lost quite a few people on that plane, so it’s pretty tough. We lost six staff.”

Mr. Kheraj told the Associated Press by telephone that his two granddaughters were on the plane, but only one of them survived — the 7-year-old girl hospitalized at Ottawa General Hospital.

Mr. Ferris said counselors have been deployed to provide support to residents of Resolute, Yellowknife and other main stations in the airline’s network.

First Air said in a news release that the plane last reported communication at 12:40 p.m. local time when it was about five miles from the Resolute Bay airstrip.

Witnesses have said there was thick fog in the area Saturday. An airport worker, who wouldn’t give his name, said there was a low cloud ceiling at the time of the crash, which lifted about 10 minutes afterward. Witnesses said the wreckage was strewn across a hill near the airport runway.

Resolute Bay is a tiny community of about 250 people tucked in a shallow, gravelly bay along the northernmost leg of the Northwest Passage. Its population is mostly aboriginal natives known as Inuits. Nunavut territory has a population of about 33,000 spread out through 25 communities.

“Individuals in each of our 25 communities are closely connected through family and friends, so whenever there is a tragedy like this, everyone in all of our communities feels it so much,” Ms. Aariak said.

Mr. Harper was scheduled to travel to Resolute Bay on Monday on his annual trip to the Arctic, but the prime minister now plans to fly there on Tuesday to pay his respects to community leaders and first responders.

Canadian Governor General David Johnston and his wife, Sharon, who are touring Nunavut, were in Resolute on Saturday morning for a previously planned visit. Mr. Johnston’s scheduled Sunday events were cancelled. Mr. Johnston is the representative of Queen Elizabeth II, Canada‘s head of state.

Despite its remote location far above the treeline, Resolute is known as the nexus of the North, a frequent staging community for scientific, military and commercial expeditions. It’s also the base for the Canadian Polar Continental Shelf project, a federal institution that handles logistics for Arctic researchers. Resolute is also the planned location of the army’s new winter warfare school.

Associated Press writer Rob Gillies contributed to this report from Toronto.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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