Three dead, four seriously hurt in helicopter skiing crash in west Canada

OTTAWA – Three people were killed and four others suffered serious injuries in the crash of a helicopter carrying a group of recreational skiers on an outing in the west coast Canadian province of British Columbia, police said on Jan 23.

The chopper went down on Jan 22 near Terrace, a town of about 12,000 residents in the Skeena region of west-central British Columbia about 110km east of the Alaska border, according to tour operator Northern Escape Heli-Skiing.

The helicopter, one of three running a heli-skiing operation in the mountainous area, had seven people on board, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a statement on Jan 23.

The crash happened in a very remote location only accessible by helicopter. Authorities will fly to the scene on Jan 23 to investigate, the RCMP said.

The British Columbia Emergency Health Services said earlier that the four people injured in the crash were treated by paramedics at the scene and were taken to Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace in critical condition.

The tour operator, whose website promotes trips featuring “big mountain, backcountry skiing at its finest”, said it was working with the RCMP and other authorities to support the investigation into the cause of the incident.

“Helicopter accidents are rare but do pose a risk to people who heli-ski in the mountains and backcountry,” a spokesperson for Northern Escape Heli-Skiing said in a statement.

The company “takes every precaution to minimize the risks while being in the backcountry … However, similar to many outdoor activities, it’s impossible to eliminate 100 per cent of the risks posed,” the spokesperson said. REUTERS

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