Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Plane crash kills 6 in NWT, Fort Smith mourns

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The road connecting the Fort Smith airport to the community was blocked Tuesday morning by emergency services. The plane crashed 500 m from the landing strip.

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In the Northwest Territories, the human toll of the plane crash that occurred Tuesday morning near Fort Smith has finally been made public: six people were killed , of the seven on board the aircraft. The news hits the small, isolated community near the Alberta border hard.

The day before, the day of the crash, the authorities confirmed that the accident had caused deaths, without being able to confirm the number or comment on the presence of survivors. The territory's chief coroner, Garth Eggenberger, released the information in a statement Wednesday morning.

The lone survivor of the crash was sent to the Fort Smith Health Center, then transferred to the Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife. His state of health has not been specified.

The town of Fort Smith, home to some 2,000 people, is located at the end of the highway that connects the Northwest Territories to Alberta, just before the border. The nearest community, Hay River, is 300 km away.

It’s a bit like living on an island. Everyone knows each other and there is a lot of closeness. […] That's why today, we are all affected, it's really complicated, explains Pierre-Emmanuel Chaillon, resident of Fort Smith.

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We are all in shock. […] Everyone hoped that there would be many more survivors. Unfortunately, the news is trickling in and it's all bad.

A quote from Fort Smith resident Pierre-Emmanuel Chaillon

Everyone is affected, it's very hard for everyone this morning, he added.

Several employees of the multinational mining company Rio Tinto were on board the plane, which was heading to the Diavik diamond mine, northeast of Yellowknife. The company said it was upset by the news on Tuesday.

The aircraft belongs to the company Northwestern Air Lease. The causes of the accident are still unknown.

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The Diavik diamond mine is located approximately 300 kilometers from Yellowknife.

In a month, this is the second accident involving a plane traveling to the Diavik diamond mine. In December, a charter aircraft from another company, Air Tindi, crashed. All 10 people on board survived.

They are workers, unfortunately many young people, people who have families. Even if we don't have the names, we know it's not going to be good.

A quote from Pierre-Emmanuel Chaillon, resident of Fort Smith

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Map where the Fort Smith airport and the plane crash site are indicated. End of widget. Return to top of widget?

The City of Fort Smith reiterated the impact of this tragedy on the tight-knit community in a statement Wednesday. She held a morning gathering at her community center for residents to reflect and come together.

We are all friends, neighbors, coworkers. We understand that you do not want to be alone at this time, we can read in the press release.

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