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Updated: Sat, 17 Aug 2013 15:46:29 GMT | By The Canadian Press, cbc.ca

Poor weather hampers B.C. float plane crash investigation



Poor weather hampers B.C. float plane crash investigation

A transportation official says the investigating of a fatal float plane crash in a remote area of Vancouver Island doesn't have "good prospects" of getting to the site soon because of continuing poor weather conditions.

Bill Yearwood, speaking for Canada's Transportation Safety Board, said that the B.C. Coroners Service, which will be using an RCMP helicopter to access the crash area, didn't have good prospects of getting in to the remote site by air Saturday because the weather in the morning was "just as bad... as it was yesterday afternoon."

"The progress of the investigation is somewhat slowed by the remoteness and the weather conditions in the area," Yearwood told CBC News.

Tofino RCMP Cpl. Darren Lagan says a group consisting of Tofino RCMP officers, West Coast Search and Rescue members, and B.C. Coroners Service members headed to the crash site ended up leaving the Hesquiat Lake shore by ground Saturday morning.

- Float plane crash leaves 2 dead, 4 injured near Tofino, B.C.

Two dead, four injured

The float plane crashed shortly after take-off from Hesquiat Lake on Friday, with a pilot and a group of five hikers aboard. Two of those in the plane died in the crash, and the other four suffered varying degrees of injury.

Lagan said the four survivors were taken to hospitals on Vancouver Island, but he did not know the nature of their injuries. Yearwood said one of them was in critical condition.

The Air Nootka plane with five passengers and a pilot left Hesquiat Lake, about 50 kilometres northwest of Tofino, on Friday morning but an emergency beacon was activated and a distress call was made minutes after takeoff.

The plane was en route to Gold River, about 40 kilometres to the northeast of the lake.

That triggered a search that involved multiple aircraft, as well as an RCMP vessel, but difficult terrain and poor weather hampered those efforts. The plane's wreckage was later discovered just north of the lake, more than five hours after the pilot's initial distress call.

Members of the Hesquiaht, Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations also helped in the search, out on the water, shore and inland.

Lagan said it was a difficult search, in poor conditions.

"It's a fairly dense forested area," he said.

There was "rain falling, there's some light wind in the area and limited visibility. The waters are described as being rough — not terribly dangerous seas, but certainly higher than you would typically see in the summer months," Lagan said.

Air Nootka, a commercial float plane operator based in Gold River, declined to comment.

With files from CBC News

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