Sourcing

6 Killed in Plane Crash En Route to Diavik Diamond Mine

SourcingJan 25, 2024

6 Killed in Plane Crash En Route to Diavik Diamond Mine

Four of those who died in Tuesday’s crash were workers at the mine, while two were airline crew members.

Rio Tinto’s Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada
Six people were killed and one survived after a plane carrying workers to the Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories (pictured) crashed shortly after takeoff Tuesday.
Yellowknife, Canada—Six people were killed Tuesday when a plane bound for the remote Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories crashed shortly after takeoff.

Rio Tinto, which operates the mine, said four of the individuals on board were workers at the mine while two were airline crew members.

Another Rio Tinto team member survived the crash and was treated at local hospitals.

“We are feeling numb with the devastating news that we have lost dear friends and colleagues,” Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said in a statement released Wednesday.

“I extend our deepest sympathy to the families, friends, and loved ones of those who have been affected by this tragedy. I am heading to the Northwest Territories to be with our team and to offer our full support. We will be working closely with authorities over the coming days, weeks and months, to support their efforts to understand the full facts of what has happened.”

The plane, a chartered Jetstream twin-turboprop operated by Northwestern Air Lease Ltd., crashed shortly after taking off from Fort Smith Airport in the Northwest Territories at 6:42 a.m. MST on Tuesday.

According to a report from Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB), the aircraft “collided with terrain” shortly after takeoff, which caused a fire. 

It crashed on the banks of the Slave River, less than a mile from the end of the runway.

A TSB spokesman said Wednesday that a team of four investigators are currently on-site at Fort Smith Airport collecting data, interviewing witnesses, and examining and photographing the wreckage and accident site.

He said the organization cannot share any additional information at this time.

According to a statement issued Wednesday by the coroner’s office, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have notified the family members of the six people killed in the crash, though the names of the victims have not yet been released. 

On Wednesday evening, the town of Fort Smith held a candlelight vigil for those lost in the crash, writing in the open invitation posted on its Facebook page, “The recent loss of many of our friends or family members on a flight to the diamond mine has hit all of us very hard. That’s why we gather tonight. We can comfort each other by prayer, song, and our heartfelt thoughts.” 

The Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly flew its flags at half-mast Wednesday as a sign of respect and mourning for the victims of the crash and their families. 

Assembly Speaker the Hon. Shane Thompson wrote, “This is devastating for Forth Smith and the territory as a whole. 

“We will grieve this loss together. This tragedy will have a lasting impact on all our friends and family across the NWT.” 

The Diavik Diamond Mine is located about 300 km (190 miles) from Yellowknife, the capital and largest city in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and is only about 200 km (124 miles) south of the Arctic Circle. 

Because of the mine’s remote location, Rio Tinto has workers transported in and out via chartered flights. 

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.
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