Nunavut town responded quickly after plane crash

Residents of a Nunavut hamlet organized a quick response aftera tragic plane crash in Sanikiluaq on Saturday that killed a six-month old boy, an official says.

Andre Larabie, the senior administrative officer for Sanikiluaq, said the plane was badly damaged. The emergency exit windows had been pushed out and the landing gear was torn away by the impact, while debris was scattered as far as a kilometre from the site.

Larabie said that as soon as the fire department siren went off, 25 to 30 people with snowmobiles, kamotiks and sleds headed to the scene to pick up passengers.

"Within an hour, not only the plane was secured but everybody was in the health centre being treated for their injuries," he said.

Larabie set up a command centre in the hamlet council chambers.

"We ensured that we safeguarded the plane, the safety of the passengers, and were also looking after the families that were involved with the crash," he said.

Hamlet staff cleared a road to the crash site and Canadian Rangers secured the plane, taking two-hour shifts and using headlights from vehicles to light the scene.

Nurses at the health centre dealt with survivors, some of whom were able to walk away from the crash site.

"They were in shock but walking," said Larabie, adding that everyone except the pilot and co-pilot were released from the health centre Saturday night.

The pilot and co-pilot, Capt. Remi Barre and First Officer Raymond Pennock, were flown by medevac to Winnipeg Sunday morning. The pilot was released later Sunday, while the co-pilot is still under observation, but in good condition.

The nurses and a mental health nurse held a session for the community Sunday night. Larabie said about 40 people attended.

"I'm very proud of the community of Sanikiluaq and proud to be their SAO, because I've seen a community coming all together."

Now, the community will come together once again. Monday afternoon there will be a funeral for six-month-old Andy Isaac Appaqaq, who died in the crash. The funeral will be held at the recreation centre.

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