(Hat tip to Evan)
First Air and Nunavut's premier are praising the Canadian military's rapid response to this weekend's plane crash near Resolute Bay, which killed 12 people and seriously injured three others.
Flight 6560 was travelling from Yellowknife to Resolute with 15 people on board, including four crew members, when the Boeing 737-200 went down mid-Saturday near the remote Arctic community.
RCMP in Nunavat confirmed on Sunday the three survivors are listed in stable condition in hospitals in Iqaluit and Ottawa.
The airline announced Sunday all of the flight's crew were among the fatalities but did not release names of the victims.
Premier Eva Aariak said the military's response was "very, very critical" to the rescue of the survivors, given the territory's often extreme conditions.
"We were lucky to have military exercise team already up in Resolute Bay to help respond to the incident," she said of the Canadian Forces personnel, who were already participating in the annual Arctic military exercise Operation Nanook and responded to the crash on Saturday.
Counsellors deployed to community
"A First Air spokesman said Sunday the airline will co-operate fully with investigators to determine what caused the crash.
"We're deeply saddened by this tragedy and offer our sincere condolences to the families," Chris Ferris, First Air's vice president of marketing, told reporters at the airline's headquarters in Kanata, Ont.
Ferris, his voice breaking with emotion during his brief statement, said field counsellors have been deployed in Resolute Bay, Yellowknife and other locations to help relatives and friends of the victims.
Ferris also thanked members of the military, saying their immediate response was "instrumental" in the rescue of the three survivors.
Nunavat's Aariak also questioned whether the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre at CFB Trenton would be able to send a response team that far north as quickly under normal circumstances.
"It takes many hours from Trenton or elsewhere to respond to situations like that, and the need to have a closer look at how we can lessen the response time is very important," she said.
First Air president and CEO Scott Bateman told reporters in Yellowknife that the flight's captain was from Edmonton and three crew members were from Yellowknife.
Bateman said he would continue to meet with relatives of victims in Yellowknife and planning to fly to Resolute Bay in the morning.
2 of 3 survivors transferred to Ottawa
A seven-year-old girl and a 48-year-old man have been transported to Ottawa General Hospital for further treatment, while a 23-year-old woman is still receiving medical care in Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit, Nunavut, RCMP Const. Angelique Dignard said in a release.
Witnesses said the aircraft crashed into a small hill as it approached Resolute's airport.
"You can see two big pieces of the plane and the tail," the CBC's Jessie Fraser reported from Resolute Bay's airport after flying over the wreckage. She described the landscape of the crash site as "little hills, rock and gravel."
'Everybody is in shock': premier
Aariak, in an interview Sunday with CBC News from Iqaluit called the crash "devastating" for the territory and its intertwined communities.
The premier said the territory's government is mobilizing its medical response and mental health teams to assist affected communities.
"We are like a close-knit family in Nunavut," she said. "There are family members in different communities as well, and the word travels fast. So everybody is in shock, and supporting one another is very important at this time."
Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who is also the MP for Nunavut, said Saturday was a "very tragic day" for the territory.
"Nunavut's a very large territory, but everyone's affected," Aglukkaq told CBC News Sunday in Ottawa.
Flight recorders recovered
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said it is still too early to speculate what might have caused the crash.
First Air said the plane's last reported communication was at 12:40 p.m. CT, approximately eight kilometres from the airport, and that the plane went down 10 minutes later.
TSB spokesman Chris Krepski said investigators will spend Sunday continuing to gather information at the scene of the crash while the plane's black box flight recorders are sent to Ottawa for analysis.
The flight data recorder records the aircraft's pitch, roll, bank and altitude and how it was flying, as well as crew-to-crew communications in the cockpit, Krepski told CBC News on Sunday morning.
TSB investigators will be interviewing witnesses, looking at the wreckage, talking to air traffic control, examining radar data and communications records and weather reports. The investigators will also review the crew's training records and experience, along with the aircraft's maintenance records, Krepski added.
'Rippling effect' throughout North
CBC reporter Patricia Bell said that Aziz (Ozzie) Kheraj, who owns the South Camp Inn in Resolute, had two granddaughters on the plane. One of the girls died, she said.
Kheraj told The Canadian Press Sunday that he chartered the flight and his other granddaughter was one of the two survivors transferred to Ottawa for treatment.
"We lost quite a few people on that plane, so it's pretty tough," Kheraj said. "We lost six staff."
Meanwhile, in Yellowknife, where the flight originated and the flight's crew were believed to be based, news of the crash had a "rippling effect" through the community, the CBC's Juanita Taylor said Sunday.
Joe McBryan, owner of Buffalo Airways, told CBC News "everyone knows everyone" in the Far North's tight-knit aviation community.
"When something like this happens, it hits home," he said, his voice choking up.
The prime minister, who is scheduled to travel to Resolute on Monday for his annual trip to the Arctic, said in a statement he was "deeply saddened by news of this tragic plane crash near Resolute Bay.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those passengers who lost their lives in this tragedy," Harper said. "We also wish a speedy recovery to those who were injured."
The Governor General, who is currently touring the Arctic, was scheduled to hold events in Resolute on Sunday, but cancelled them given the tragedy. Johnston and his wife Sharon said in a statement their "thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this tragic event."
The airline provides scheduled passenger and cargo service between 25 northern communities with connections to Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Ottawa.
The airline began in 1946 as Bradley Air Services, offering charter, surveying, passenger and cargo flights across northern Canada.
Original Article, Videos, Photos: http://www.cbc.ca/news