The Department of National Defence says two Royal Canadian Air Force members who had been missing since a Chinook helicopter crashed in eastern Ontario have been found dead.
The pair was found late Tuesday evening after an extensive search of the Ottawa River near Petawawa, Ont., which is about 160 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.
Four people were on board the helicopter when it crashed just after midnight Tuesday during a training exercise.
Officials said Wednesday the group was carrying out a normal training event intended to train first officer pilots, and there were two pilots and two air crew members on board.
The Armed Forces said it is not releasing the names of the members who were killed out of respect for their families’ wishes.
“Our hearts break for the members of 450 Squadron and the families who have lost their loved ones,” Defence Minister Anita Anand said Wednesday morning.
The other two crew members were taken to hospital with minor injuries and have since been released.
“We are reminded today that this can be dangerous work, whether it’s carried out in support of military operations or while training for those operations,” said Gen. Wayne Eyre, chief of the defence staff.
“Our people know the risks and they take them willingly … because they understand the importance of their work.”
The military says a full investigation into what caused the crash is underway.
There was a recording device on board the helicopter, but it is not clear whether it has been recovered from the wreckage. In the meantime, the fleet of 15 CH-174F Chinooks based in Petawawa will not be flying.
“There is no formal pause in the operation of the fleet at this time. However, the fleet will take a pause out of respect for this tragic incident and all of the members of 450 Squadron,” Anand said.
The helicopters are intended for transporting personnel and equipment, and have been used in response to natural disasters and emergencies across the country.
The crash happened in the Ottawa River and the military said it is now conducting environmental containment and clean-up efforts.
Boaters are being asked to stay off the river while crews investigate, and communities in the area have asked residents to reduce their water usage.