POLITICS

Freighter canoe carrying six children missing in northern Quebec

07/10/2012 08:57 EDT | Updated 09/09/2012 05:12 EDT
HALIFAX - A search is underway for a large freighter canoe carrying two adults and six children that was headed across a large bay at the northern tip of Quebec.

The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax said Tuesday the seven-metre canoe was travelling across a section of Ungava Bay and was expected to arrive at its destination on Monday.

But the group failed to show up by Tuesday afternoon. The children aboard range in age from 4 to 14.

Lt. Edward Stansfield, a spokesman for Maritime Forces Atlantic, said the group is from the area and regularly plies the waters of the bay.

"They are very experienced doing this trek," Stansfield said in an interview from Halifax. "They've done it their whole lives ... This is a very regular occurrence for them."

Stansfield said the group, from Kangiqsualujuaq, headed out in their canoe on Saturday, bound for Tasiujaq on the west side of the bay. That's a distance of about 200 kilometres — straight across the bay.

Bad weather descended on the area on the weekend. Strong winds, fog and rain persisted until Tuesday.

"It's expected and certainly hoped that they went ashore to wait out the weather," Stansfield said.

Still, a volunteer searcher was expected to scan the area in a Twin Otter aircraft until nightfall, and the military has dispatched a Hercules aircraft from Greenwood, N.S.

A Cormorant search and rescue helicopter, also based in Greenwood, was expected to head to the area at first light.

As well, the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Des Groseilliers was expected to arrive Wednesday. It was only 550 kilometres south of the cape that marks the eastern entrance to the bay when the rescue call came in.