Finding plane in Labrador lake like looking for ‘needle in the haystack’: RCMP

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The RCMP say the daunting size of the remote Labrador lake where a float plane crashed July 15 has complicated an ongoing underwater search for four missing men and the aircraft that was carrying them.

GPS co-ordinates of the downed de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane, owned by Quebec airline Air Saguenay, were recorded when Maritime Forces Atlantic left the scene July 16, Cpl. Jolene Garland said.

But since then, the RCMP believes, high winds and heavy rain have caused the plane to drift.

Divers have been searching Mistastin Lake, about 100 kilometres southwest of Nain, since last weekend, but so far only small pieces of debris from the plane have been found.

Garland said Wednesday that divers are grappling with the lake’s 16-kilometre length and extreme depth.

“It’s like the needle in the haystack,” Garland said of the search for the missing plane.

She said the search teams intend to investigate “objects of interest” in the lake with divers and with a remotely operated vehicle that can reach greater depths. But Garland said the search for the objects, identified by side scanning sonar, can be tricky with such a wide area to cover.

“Even if you did it in quadrants, by the time you’re moving around and rotating your search area, things could’ve drifted or moved from where you first started,” she said.

No end date has been set for the search efforts.

Seven men, including the pilot, were onboard the float plane that left Three Rivers Lodge in Labrador to fish on Mistastin Lake.

It didn’t return as planned that evening, sparking the response by Maritime Forces Atlantic, which spotted the tail of the plane and other wreckage floating in the water early on Tuesday.

The bodies of fishing guide Dwayne Winsor of Deer Lake, N.L., guest John Weaver II of Chicago and another 67-year-old man from New Jersey have been recovered so far.

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