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Plane crashes in northern Saskatchewan with 25 people on board, no fatalities

Last Updated Dec 14, 2017 at 2:00 am EDT

RCMP say a plane with 25 people on board has crashed in northern Saskatchewan shortly after taking off around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Fond du Lac airport. First responders work the crash scene near the Fond du Lac airport in a Wednesday, December 13, 2017, image posted to social media. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook, Raymond Sanger, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

FOND DU LAC, Sask. – A relative of two people who were hurt in a plane crash in northern Saskatchewan Wednesday night said he is praying for their recovery and thankful for the efforts of first responders who helped them.

Darryl McDonald said his 70-year-old mother, Ernestine, suffered a broken jaw and facial injuries when the plane went down with 25 people aboard about a kilometre from the airstrip near the remote community of Fond Du Lac.

There were no fatalities.

Ernestine was being flown to a hospital in Saskatoon and McDonald’s sister Brenda was being taken to a clinic in Stony Rapids for treatment of injuries to her legs, he said.

“She has a low heartbeat but they have kept her stable,” McDonald said of his mother.

“I am hoping that she pulls through, that they have strength. My prayers go out to them.”

McDonald, who lives in Louisdale, N.S., said he learned of the crash through a friend in Fond Du Lac and contacted another sister, who rushed to the local health clinic where their mother and sister were taken immediately after they got out of the plane.

RCMP said the aircraft went down at around 6:15 p.m. There was no explosion or fire.

Police and first responders quickly worked to get the 22 passengers and three crew out of the twin-engine ATR 42 turbo prop.

One of the passengers is an infant.

A picture of the crash site shows the damaged aircraft partly on its side in the trees with a wing jutting up in the air at a 45-degree angle.

Rick Philipenko, a spokesman for Saskatoon-based West Wind Aviation, confirmed it was one of the company’s planes that crashed.

“The primary concern for us right now is making sure that the passengers and crew are looked after,” he said.

McDonald said his sister told him that people in the community helped the passengers keep warm with blankets and brought food to a community centre near the health clinic.

The Royal Canadian Air Force said it had sent a Hercules transport aircraft and a helicopter to help.

The Transportation Safety Board said a team of investigators will arrive in the community Thursday.

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau issued a statement about the crash.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to convey our thoughts for those affected by this accident, and our appreciation for the efforts of local first responders,” he said from Ottawa.

“The Government of Canada is co-ordinating the activity of Transport Canada, Department of National Defence, and the RCMP in responding to this accident.”

Fond Du Lac is a mainly Dene community on the east side of Lake Athabasca.

— By John Cotter in Edmonton, with a file from MBC