Fourth day of search yields no sign of missing Nunavut snowmobilers
“I’m just hoping that they’re warm”
Search and rescue crews came up empty-handed at the end of their fourth day looking for Uqqummiut MLA Pauloosie Keyootak and his two fellow companions, who have been missing for over a week somewhere between Iqaluit and Pangnirtung.
Keyootak left Iqaluit on snowmobile around noon March 22, accompanied by his 15-year-old son Atamie Qiyutaq and nephew Peter Kakkee.
Keyootak, 62, is a former president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and was elected as Uqqummiut’s new MLA in a by-election February 2015.
The trio hoped to reach Pangnirtung, roughly 300 kilometres away by snowmobile trail, sometime in the middle of the night. The snowmobilers planned to break there before continuing on to their hometown of Qikiqtarjuaq, another 200 kilometres away.
But the group never made it to Pangnirtung.
When the men hadn’t arrived in Pangnirtung by March 24, family members reported them overdue. Search and rescue efforts began March 27 from both Iqaluit and Pangnirtung.
The following day, Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax dispatched a Hercules aircraft to search the area, and later a Cormorant helicopter.
The JRCC dispatched a second Hercules and Cormorant March 30 to allow the other aircraft crew to rest after a nighttime search.
Keyootak, his son and Kakkee are considered experienced on the land. The men’s snowmobiles pulled a qamutik with fuel and other supplies, family members said, but no GPS device.
“They only had four or five jerry cans,” a family member told Nunatsiaq News March 30. “I’m just hoping that they’re warm. It’s freezing out there.”
But conditions remain mostly clear between Iqaluit and Pangnirtung, with Environment Canada forecasting sunshine and temperatures around -20C for the next few days.
The search and rescue committee is looking for both information and Iqaluit-based volunteers to help with the ongoing search efforts. The committee needs on-the-ground searchers and volunteers to help answer phones or inquiries related to the search.
Anyone who might have spoken to Keyootak about his travel plans or has information about his location should also call 975-7900.