3 missing after floatplane crashes into ocean off B.C. coast

A Cormorant helicopter, seen here in a file photo, helped search for three missing people after the crash around 50 kilometres north of Port Hardy, B.C., on Tuesday. (Brett Ruskin/CBC - image credit)
A Cormorant helicopter, seen here in a file photo, helped search for three missing people after the crash around 50 kilometres north of Port Hardy, B.C., on Tuesday. (Brett Ruskin/CBC - image credit)

Three people are missing after a floatplane crashed into the ocean in a remote area off British Columbia's Central Coast on Wednesday.

RCMP said the small Cessna went down in Strachan Bay, around 50 kilometres north of Port Hardy, B.C., around 1:20 p.m. PT. Three people were on board: the pilot and two passengers flying back to Port Hardy from a logging camp.

The Canadian Coast Guard sent boats and a helicopter to search the area, but a statement said "no survivors have been located and the plane has been presumed to have sunk."

The RCMP's West Coast Marine and Dive Team is still searching.

"The weather is going to pose a challenge for any rescue efforts. However, we are still going to put all our efforts and available resources that we have available [into it]," RCMP Cpl. Alex Berube said in an interview.

"I know our divers are going to be doing everything they can to locate the plane and any survivors."

The floatplane belonged to Air Cab, a coastal air charter business based in the Vancouver Island community of Coal Harbour. The company installed tracking devices on all its planes, but president Joel Eilersten said they don't work underwater.

"We have absolutely no idea [what happened]," Eilersten said when reached by phone on Thursday.

Mounties and the Transportation Safety Board are investigating what might have caused the crash.

"It is quite early to determine why it went down. However, we do know that the weather yesterday was quite windy and again, there's a weather warning today in that area," Berube said.

"This may have played a factor into the crash, but there will be a [full] investigation."

Anyone with information is asked to contact RCMP.

Strachan Bay