The Royal Canadian Air Force is searching for two members who are missing after a military helicopter crashed in eastern Ontario early Tuesday morning.
The Department of National Defence says four Royal Canadian Air Force members were on the CH-147 Chinook helicopter when it crashed after midnight near the Ottawa River near Petawawa, Ont.
The crew was taking part in a training flight. The military has not said anything about what caused the crash.
Two of the crew members were found by first responders and taken to hospital in Pembroke, Ont., overnight.
The search involves about 50 Canadian Armed Forces members on shore and in the water, with help from an Ontario Provincial Police marine unit, Petawawa and Pembroke fire departments and several military rescue aircraft.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he spoke Tuesday morning with Gen. Wayne Eyre, chief of the defence staff.
“My thoughts go out to the entire Canadian Armed Forces, the members of the 450 Squadron who are obviously very deeply affected by this,” Trudeau said on his way into a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill.
“We’re now hoping for the best, but braced for the worst,” he said. “We just want to thank everyone who serves and show them our support through this difficult time.”
The Defence Department is asking boaters to avoid the area near the Garrison Petawawa military base to allow for search efforts and ensure the integrity of the crash scene.
Petawawa is about 160 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.
The military’s fleet of 15 Chinooks is used to transport troops and equipment.
The helicopters have also been deployed to help with natural disasters in Canada and to provide emergency medical evacuations during an operation in Mali in 2018 and 2019.
Last August, the United States military grounded its fleet of 400 Chinook helicopters after several reports that fuel leaks had caused engine fires. No injuries or deaths had been reported.
At the time, a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence said there had not been any such issues with the Royal Canadian Air Force fleet and that the Canadian military would be in touch with Boeing, the manufacturer.