British Columbia

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

Two people have died and four others were injured after a float plane crashed in a remote area on the west coast of Vancouver Island, officials say.

Pilot sent out a distress call 3 minutes after takeoff

Four people also injured after crash near Tofino 2:11

Two people have died and four others were injured after a float plane crashed in a remote area on the west coast of Vancouver Island, officials say.

"Of the six adults on board — one pilot and five passengers — two were found deceased, and four suffered varying degrees of injury," said Cpl. Darren Lagan of Island District RCMP.

People living in area where the plane crashed say the hikers appear to be in their 50s and were familiar with the wilderness trails that draw travellers to the region. (CBC)

The four survivors have been transported to hospitals on Vancouver Island, he added.

RCMP will not identify anyone involved in the crash pending notification of the families.

The plane, a de Havilland Beaver that belongs to Air Nootka, was headed to Gold River in Vancouver Island's interior.

Five hikers chartered the plane, which took off Friday morning around 10:20 a.m. PT near Hesquiat Lake, north of Tofino.

Officials said the pilot sent out a distress call three minutes after takeoff.

Dianne Ignace, who lives in remote Hesquiat Village, said she saw three Air Nootka planes fly into Hesquiat Lake Friday morning, but only two flew out.

Ignace described poor weather conditions for flying.

"Our ceiling was so low, we couldn't see the mountains for most of the day," she said. "The visibility is very bad and it was southeast winds today."

Ignace said she didn't realize there was a problem until she heard over her VHF radio that one of the planes was in distress.

"It said 'Mayday. Downed aircraft,'" she told CBC News.

Ignace said locals often meet hikers who pass through the area and that she had met the five passengers who were on board the downed plane.

Lt. Greg Menzies, spokesman for the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre, said rescue crews picked up a beacon signal from the aircraft for a short time before it was lost.

Crews were able to narrow the search to 54 square kilometres, but it took them more than five hours to locate the wreckage, five kilometres from Hesquiat Lake.

"Because of the thick forest, because of the low ceiling, it does obviously take more time," Menzies said.

The B.C. Coroners Service and the Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

With files from the CBC's Lisa Cordasco and Jodie Martinson