Float plane with six people missing, presumed crashed in B.C.; search underway

TOFINO, B.C. - A float plane carrying six people has crashed near Tofino, B.C. and at least two people are believed to have survived the crash.

A spokesman with the Joint-Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria said the wreckage was discovered just north of Hesquiaht Harbour on Vancouver Island, but he could not comment on the condition of the passengers.

"Can't disclose that information right now simply because the next of kin have yet to be notified," said Lt. Navy Greg Menzies.

Jean Jackson, who was helping to dispatch search volunteers with the Hesquiaht First Nation, said she had heard from Tofino Search and Rescue that two people walked away from the crash and the other four had been accounted for.

She said she didn't know whether that meant the others had survived.

"I just heard that they are now all accounted for and the hospital has been notified," she said.

The plane operated by Air Nootka took off from the southeast side of Hesquiaht Lake just before 10:30 a.m. this morning.

Three minutes after take off, an emergency beacon on the plane was activated.

Search co-ordinator Brandon Austin said that since then, "all tracking and communication has been lost."

Air Nootka declined to comment until more information is available.

Cpl. Darren Lagan with the Island District RCMP said very few details about the passengers, who were believed to be hikers.

The plane had "one pilot and five passengers on board," he said, adding their intended destination was Gold River.

Lagan said multiple organizations are assisting in the search, but difficult terrain is hampering their progress.

"It's a fairly dense forested area," he said, adding the rugged coastline is also experiencing problematic weather.

There's "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," he said.

Jackson said dozens of people from her band and two others in the area helped scour the water, land and beach front for survivors.