Plane carrying Rio Tinto workers crashes in Canada’s Northwest, six dead

Diavik diamond mine in Canada. (Image courtesy of Rio Tinto).

Six people were killed after a small plane carrying global miner Rio Tinto’s workers crashed near Fort Smith in Canada’s remote Northwest Territories (NWT) on Tuesday, the NWT Coroner Service said on Wednesday.

Four passengers and two North Western Air Lease crew members died in the crash, Chief Coroner Garth Eggenberger said in a statement.

There was one survivor who was treated at the Fort Smith Health Centre before being taken to hospital in the provincial capital Yellowknife.

The plane had been travelling from Fort Smith to Rio Tinto’s Diavik Diamond Mine, located 200 kilometres (124 miles) south of the Arctic Circle.

Three Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons supported search and rescue efforts for the British Aerospace Jetstream aircraft, which was found near the Slave River after losing contact shortly after take-off.

The aircraft is registered to Northwestern Air Lease, which is headquartered in Fort Smith, a small town of 2,500 people. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

Fort Smith’s mayor and council released a statement on Wednesday extending condolences to friends and family of those killed.

“These people are treasured members of our community and their loss touches everyone,” the statement said.

A team of investigators from Canada’s Transportation Safety Board has been deployed to look into the accident.

Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm said in a statement on Tuesday night that the company was devastated by the crash and would closely with authorities to find out exactly what happened.

(By Nia Williams; Editing by Franklin Paul, Chizu Nomiyama and Marguerita Choy)


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