Six mine workers dead in plane crash in Canada's far north

Representational image of the Rio Tinto mining company’s logo
| Photo Credit: Reuters

Six people died when a small commuter plane carrying workers to a Rio Tinto mine in Canada’s icy far north crashed Tuesday shortly after taking off.

The Australian mining giant said a plane bound for its Diavik mine and “carrying a number of our people” crashed “resulting in fatalities.”

According to an aviation source, who asked not to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media, one person survived.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ontario said contact with the plane was lost shortly after it took off at about 8.50 a.m. local time from Fort Smith, which is 320 kilometers southwest of the regional capital Yellowknife.

Canadian Rangers on snowmobiles located the wreckage of the craft, while search and rescue technicians parachuted into the scene.

Northwestern Air, which operated the Jetstream twin turboprop airliner, said the charter flight crashed 1.1 kilometers (0.7 miles) from the end of the runway.

All flights from Fort Smith have been grounded until Wednesday. Canada’s Transportation Safety Board deployed a team to investigate the accident.

Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm extended the firm’s “deepest sympathy” to families, friends and loved ones of those affected.

“As a company we are absolutely devastated by this news and offering our full support to our people and the community who are grieving today,” he said.

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