VANCOUVER—Four people have died in a float plane crash on a small island north of Vancouver Island — the latest in a number of deadly and high-profile incidents involving sea planes on the Pacific coast in recent months.
The Cessna 208 Caravan, owned by Seair Seaplanes, crashed Friday on Addenbroke Island, about 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy, B.C., said Lt. Chelsea Dubeau, with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria.
Nine people were onboard the small plane, which went down just after 11 a.m.
The rescue centre confirmed the four deaths.
“Two patients are in critical condition, and three are serious but stable,” B.C. Emergency Health Services relayed on Twitter of the survivors.
The charter, which took off from Richmond, B.C., had been en route to Calvert Island, according the rescue centre. Calvert Island is to the immediate west of Addenbroke.
Chris Krepski, a spokesperson for the Transportation Safety Board, said the plane had been headed to a remote fishing lodge. The board, he said, was gathering information before deciding what its next steps would be.
A Canadian Coast Guard helicopter, two coast guard vessels and two military aircraft, which faced rain and low visibility, responded to the crash, Dubeau said.
Injured passengers were airlifted by the military’s CH-149 Cormorant to Port Hardy, where paramedics and two air ambulance critical care teams, which have specialized training, were set up to meet them.
Addenbroke Island happens to be along a BC Ferries route that runs from Port Hardy through the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert. The Northern Sea Wolf, a BC Ferries vessel, was one of the first vessels on scene, and stayed on site to assist for hours, delaying its expected arrival in Bella Coola by more than six hours.
The Seair airline, meanwhile, cancelled flights Friday afternoon at the company’s Vancouver terminal on the edge of Vancouver Harbour.
“We are currently working with first responders and authorities and have immediately suspended all flights,” the company said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with those involved in the crash and their loved ones and are devastated by this fatal accident.”
A decade ago, another Seair craft, a de Havilland DHC-2 — or Beaver float plane — was involved in a crash that left six passengers dead, including a mother and her six-month-old baby. The plane crashed just after takeoff in Saturna Island’s Lyall Harbour. Only the pilot and one other passenger survived.
In the past few months, there have been several float plane crashes along the west coast, including an incident in which two panes crashed mid-air southeast of Ketchikan, Alaska, killing six people.
Another crash happened about 150 kilometres northwest of the B.C. city of Prince Rupert, where a Taquan Air float plane crashed on its way back from the nearby city of Ketchikan.
With files from Cherise Seucharan and the Canadian Press
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Ainslie Cruickshank is a Vancouver-based reporter covering the environment. Follow her on Twitter: @ainscruickshank