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2 frostbitten plane crash survivors 'extremely grateful'

Two men from Sweden who survived a plane crash in the waters off southern Baffin Island by spending the night on an ice floe say they know they are lucky to be alive.
Plane crash survivor, Oliver Edwards-Neil, 25, is nursing frostbitten feet. ((CBC News))
Two men from Sweden who survived a plane crash in the waters off southern Baffin Island by spending the night on an ice floe say they know they are lucky to be alive.

The two, who are in hospital in Iqaluit after being rescued by a Nova Scotia-based fishing vessel Monday, told CBC News there were times during the ordeal when they feared for their lives.

"I never imagined you could be that cold, the shivering and chattering of the teeth," said Oliver Edwards-Neil, 25. "I thought this is the point where people freeze to death."

Edwards-Neil and 45-year-old Troels Hansen were flying a Cessna from Labrador to Iqaluit when the plane's two engines quit and it crashed on the edge of an ice pan in Hudson Strait.

They got out of the plane just before it sank, but they were left stranded on a piece of ice for 12 hours before they were spotted by the shrimp fishing boat.

"I'm extremely grateful," said Hansen, who had been piloting the plane in the dark, not knowing whether they were over land or water when the engine problems began.
Troels Hansen said the two men will be friends for life after their ordeal. ((CBC News))

At one point during the night, the spotlight from a military search aircraft passed close by but failed to spot them. That was devastating, Hansen said.

"We knew this is critical. This is very critical. We cannot stay here much longer; our strength is wearing out," he said.

"I know if we just lay down, that's not good, and we knew that."

Although they did not have time to grab their flares from the plane before it sank, they were wearing survival suits, which made a big difference in their survival, said Master Corp. Joe Arsenault, who was part of the military team that picked the men up from boat.

"They didn't land on an ice floe off of Bermuda, so it's definitely because of their preparedness that they survived the event," he said.

The two will remain in hospital a few more days for observation.