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No survivors in plane crash on B.C.'s Gabriola Island, RCMP confirm

Wednesday, December 11th 2019, 12:07 pm - Plane crashed into small island amid foggy conditions Tuesday evening; no confirmation on number of dead

RCMP have confirmed there are no survivors after a small plane crashed into Gabriola Island in southwest B.C. on Tuesday evening.

Mounties did not say how many people were on board the aircraft, but confirmed the pilot and any passengers were killed when the plane went down around 6:10 p.m. PT.

The BC Coroners Service has confirmed "multiple" fatalities, but a statement Wednesday morning said the service was still unable to provide an exact number.

BCPlaneCrash2

First responders were called to the northwest end of the island following the crash. Additional RCMP officers and at least four extra ambulances were also dispatched to the island by ferry.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is leading the investigation. A spokesperson reached Wednesday morning said they were unable to provide any new information on the crash. Three TSB investigators are expected to arrive on the island, located just off the Vancouver Island city of Nanaimo, by noon.

crash-scene The B.C. Ambulance Service says the crash occurred near a house on Ricardo Road. (Skye Ryan/Chek News)

The crash site will be cordoned off by RCMP until TSB officials arrive. RCMP Cpl. Chris Manseau said no one on the ground was injured in the crash.

Residents from the quiet, rural island community rushed to the crash scene Tuesday night in an effort to help. They gathered in the dark, on standby, as first responders flooded the area.

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Randi Lynch was wide-eyed as she watched. She said she was walking through her yard when she saw the plane spinning above her cottage and going down.

"All of a sudden I heard some weird noises and the plane was turning around, spinning, out of control ... and in two minutes it was down and there were flames and explosions. It was terrible," said Lynch, her voice shaking.

Lynch said a neighbour told her the aircraft was in "shards."

randi-lynch-gabriola Randi Lynch heard the plane crash near her Gabriola Island home. (CHEK News)

Bette Lou Hagen lives one property away from the crash site. She said her home shook when the plane made impact.

"It sounded so loud that I jumped. My deaf husband jumped up — he can hardly hear and he was out of his seat. We rushed outside and we could hear people yelling. It was the loudest crash I've ever heard in my life."

Gabriola Island is one of B.C.'s Gulf Islands, which are clustered in the Strait of Georgia between the mainland and Vancouver Island.

"This isn't something that our officers see very often in their careers and definitely not for the people who live on that island," said Cpl. Manseau, who works out of the B.C. RCMP's headquarters in Surrey.

"Most people go to that island fortranquility and peace and quiet, so to have a plane crash literally in your own backyard is going to be scary for a lot of people there."

gabriola-crash BCAS responded to the call at 6:10 p.m. on Tuesday. (Skye Ryan/Chek News)

This article was originally published by CBC News and written by Rhianna Schmunk. With files from Rafferty Baker, Meera Bains, Megan Batchelor, Michelle Ghoussoub and Lien Yeung.

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