Canadian officials say a lucky coincidence may be the reason three people survived a plane crash in the remote Arctic wilderness Saturday.
Some 500 members of Canada's military, along with a team of investigators from the Transportation Safety Board, were less than two kilometers from the crash scene, getting ready to participate in a mock airline crash training exercise scheduled for Monday when the plane went down on the approach to the airport in the small town of Resolute Bay.
The rescuers were able to arrive at the First Air Boeing 737 passenger jet by helicopter within minutes of the accident and assist the three survivors, who are listed in stable condition.
First Air says 15 people were onboard the downed plane, including a crew of four. An airline spokesman confirmed all four crew were among the 12 dead in the crash.
The official cause of the accident has not been determined, but thick fog was reported in the area at the time. The plane's flight recorders have been recovered.
First Air says the charter flight was travelling between Yellowknife, in Canada's Northwest Territories and Resolute Bay, a small, remote town located nearly 600 kilometers from the North Pole, in the Arctic territory of Nunavut. Resolute Bay is often used as a launching point for North Pole expeditions.