An unspecified number of people died after a plane crashed Tuesday in Canada's Northwest Territories near the town of Fort Smith while en route to a diamond mine, officials said.
Some of the passengers on board were employees of Rio Tinto, a global mining company, according to A Tuesday statement from the group.
The company did not mention the number of its workers who were on board the plane, but indicated that the accident led to deaths while the plane was on its way to a diamond mine belonging to the company.
The Northwest Territories coroner also said there were fatalities in the crash but did not specify how many, according to a news release obtained by CNN.
“At this time, we can confirm there are fatalities but will not be providing any additional information pending next of kin,” Northwest Territories coroner Garth Eggenberger said in a news release.
In response to the incident, Fort Smith Health Center activated mass casualty protocol around 8:50 a.m. Tuesday, According to the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority.
The incident also sparked reactions from the Royal Canadian Mounted Patrol, the Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Investigators from the Northwest Territories Coroner's Office and the Transportation Safety Board were also sent to Fort Smith after the crash.
The plane in question is a British Jetstream registered with Northwestern Air Lease, according to the British newspaper The Guardian. Transportation Safety Board of CanadaWhich said it was investigating the incident. The plane can carry up to 19 passengers, according to Northwestern Air Lease website. CNN has reached out to Northwestern Air Lease for comment.
R. J. Simpson, Chief Minister of the Northwest Territories, Issue a statement Expressing my sincere condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of those on board. He also encouraged affected residents to seek support and use Mental health resources Provided by the government.
“The impact of this incident is being felt throughout the region,” Simpson said. “The people we lost were not just passengers on a flight; They were neighbours, colleagues, friends and loved ones. “Their stories and contributions to our communities will never be forgotten.”
On Tuesday morning, Canadian Rangers and the Royal Canadian Air Force responded to a report of a loss of contact with an aircraft outside Fort Smith, said David Lavallee, a public affairs officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Winnipeg. CNN Canada news partner CBC News.
Visibility was poor during the early hours of Tuesday morning, but improved by about 10 a.m., according to CNN's weather team.
The Air Force flew a CC 138 Twin Otter from Yellowknife and a CC 130J Hercules from Trenton to assist in search and rescue operations, Lavallee said. Additional training units were also sent to Calgary.
As part of the response, RCMP and Canada Rangers also conducted ground searches, Lavallee told CBC.
Following the crash Tuesday morning, Fort Smith officials asked to stay away from the crash site to allow officials to respond.
“Please be advised that an aviation accident occurred this morning,” the Town of Fort Smith said in a statement. Reply on Facebook. “This is a new situation and the City of Fort Smith is preparing to respond and provide support in any way we can.”
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police told CNN they would assist the coroner's office and the TSB with the investigation throughout the night.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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