3 people dead after helicopter crash in Nunavut, RCMP says

A helicopter trip to survey polar bear populations in the High Arctic ended tragically on the weekend in a crash that killed three people.

RCMP said the chopper went down on Griffith Island, about 20 kilometres southwest of Resolute Bay, Nunavut.

A statement from Yellowknife-based Great Slave Helicopters said two crew members and a wildlife biologist were on board and no one survived.

In a statement, Nunavut Premier and Environment Minister Joe Savikataaq said the polar bear survey in Lancaster Sound was being undertaken by his department.

“I was devastated to hear the news of a fatal helicopter crash near Resolute Bay last night,” Savikataaq said on Monday.

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“This is especially hard and personal … As the RCMP work to determine the cause of the crash, I ask you to please keep the victims and their loved ones in your thoughts.”

He said the names of the dead would not be released until next of kin are notified.

RCMP said they received word of a missing chopper Sunday night after it didn’t land at its scheduled time and no contact could be made with those on board.

Click to play video: 'Two pilots escape unhurt after Bowen Island helicopter crash caught on video'
Two pilots escape unhurt after Bowen Island helicopter crash caught on video

No information was given on the accident’s cause or the helicopter’s departure point.

The RCMP, Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the chief coroner’s office are investigating. The safety board said it was preparing to deploy a team to the site.

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RCMP, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre based in Trenton, Ont., and the Canadian Rangers all responded to the crash. A three-person search-and-rescue team from Resolute Bay arrived early Monday and confirmed there were no survivors.

“We share the grief of the friends and family of the victims. We request privacy for them and the company as we get through these difficult times,” Great Slave Helicopters said in its statement.

The company said the crash site and surrounding area had been secured for investigators.

In a tweet Monday evening, Canada’s Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal offered his “heartfelt condolences to (the) families and loved ones of the 3 individuals whose lives were tragically lost” in the crash.

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“I know the days, weeks, and months ahead will be difficult as you grieve this loss, and I share in your grief,” he wrote.

-With a file from Global News

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