Nunavut RCMP continue recovery operation for missing travellers
Investigation into snow machine’s plunge into ice “ongoing”
The search for the bodies of two deceased Rankin Inlet men continued Jan. 24.
Nunavut RCMP members returned to the scene of a tragic weekend accident near Whale Cove that killed three and left one survivor, after their Bombardier snow machine broke through sea ice.
About a dozen search and rescue members, accompanied by the RCMP’s underwater recovery team, reached the site of the Jan. 21 incident early Jan. 24, RCMP Cpl. Denis Lambe told Nunatsiaq News Jan. 24.
“We’re not presuming anything right now. The file is still ongoing,” Lambe added.
The men on board the Bombardier, aged 27 to 55, all came from Rankin Inlet. Police have finished notifying their families, Lambe said.
They recovered one body, but, as of our publication deadline, were still searching for the other two missing men.
The four men had been hauling a truck and snow machines over the sea ice between Rankin Inlet and Arviat when their Bombardier, a large snow machine on tracks and skis and with an enclosed cab, broke through sea ice.
Nunavut’s chief coroner, Padma Suramala, said more information will be released after the investigation is completed.
“The Nunavut Coroner’s Service is investigating the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate deaths in this tragic accident and the investigation is in the preliminary stage. Once I have full details, will release it to the media,” Suramala said in a statement to Nunatsiaq News Jan. 24.
Many Rankin Inlet residents were devastated after news about the incident reached the Kivalliq hamlet of roughly 2,600 people over the weekend.
Sunday mass at the community’s Roman Catholic “Mary Our Mother” church opened with a call for prayers for the four men and their families.
Fundraising efforts have also aimed to raise money for the families, with one man, who had won a pair of system-wide airline ticket on Canadian North, donating these to a benefit raffle.
“The family, of course, are grieving and everybody else is. It’s a really, really, bad tragedy that’s happened,” Rankin Inlet South MLA, Alexander Sammurtok, told Nunatsiaq News Jan. 23.
Sammurtok said that during his talks with elders, he learned there are parts of the sea ice near Whale Cove which can remain thin over the winter.
The added weight of the Bombardier might have been proved too much for the ice to bear, he speculated.