A plane carrying Rio Tinto workers to a diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories has crashed, killing six people. The charter flight to Australian mining giant Diavik’s diamond mine came down near Fort Smith, killing two flight crew and four Rio Tinto staffers, with another Rio Tinto worker receiving treatment in Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife.
In the wake of the tragedy, Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm said: “We are feeling numb with the devastating news that we have lost dear friends and colleagues. 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.”
Northwestern Air Lease, which operated the downed flight, also offered sympathies in a statement on its Facebook page, while also urging: “Please give everyone time to grieve the loss of our treasured coworkers, friends, family and community members. During this difficult period let us be there for each other so we can get through this together.”
Local government officials have also offered their condolences. “Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy,” stated Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty. “As a community, we mourn with you for the lives of those lost, and we offer our support during this incredibly difficult time.”
It remains unclear why the 19-seater BAE Jetstream aircraft crashed, but Canada’s Transportation Safety Board has deployed a team of investigators, stating that it “is gathering information and assessing the occurrence”.
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The Diavik diamond mine has been producing since 2003, with Rio Tinto operating the mine for its entire two-decade lifespan. In 2021, the company gained full control of the mine after purchasing a major stake from its billionaire owner.