Trudeau says RCAF helicopter crash killed crewmembers, vows probe

Click to play video: '2 RCAF members feared dead after Chinook helicopter crash in Ontario'
2 RCAF members feared dead after Chinook helicopter crash in Ontario
WATCH: Two members of the Royal Canadian Air Force are feared dead and two others are injured after a Chinook helicopter crashed in the Ottawa River, near the Garrison Petawawa army base. Mercedes Stephenson reports – Jun 20, 2023

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says members of the Royal Canadian Air Force were killed in a Chinook helicopter crash early Tuesday morning near Ottawa.

The four-member crew was on a training mission and the military said earlier in the day while two had been injured, the search was continuing for two others who were missing.

Trudeau did not specify which members or how many had been killed.

“I was happy to speak with the chief of defence staff last night to express my condolences to the families and and colleagues of the members who’ve been killed,” Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday.

“The fact is, there will be a thorough investigation. There will be answers to give. But right now, we’re focusing on notification of families and support.”

A Department of National Defence spokesperson said that “search and recovery efforts are ongoing,” and that official confirmation would be provided once more information is available.

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The four-member crew was on a training flight overnight when the Chinook helicopter they were in crashed into the Ottawa River near Garrison Petawawa, Ont., the Department of National Defence said in a statement.

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Two other members of the crew were taken to hospital in Pembroke after they were found by first responders, DND said.

The Pembroke Regional Hospital confirmed to Global News that both the rescued crewmembers were admitted there, but did not disclose any information about their condition or injuries.

By Tuesday morning, nearly 50 Canadian Armed Forces members were assisting the rescue efforts on shore and water, along with RCAF aircraft, an Ontario Provincial Police marine unit and local fire departments.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also confirmed the incident on Twitter, wishing the injured a “fast and full recovery.”

“In this difficult time, we’re here for you,” he said.

Defence Minister Anita Anand said the government is doing everything it can to support the RCAF crew and their loved ones.

“I’m thinking of everyone at 450 Squadron and Garrison Petawawa, and family members, as search efforts continue for two missing @CanadianForces personnel. We’re here for you – and we’re doing everything we can to support you,” she said on Twitter.

As the search effort continues, DND is asking boaters in the area to stay clear of the shores near Garrison Petawawa and avoid “potentially hazardous materials” from the crashed aircraft.

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Petawawa is about 160 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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