05/29/2013 06:05 EDT | Updated 07/29/2013 05:12 EDT

Helicopter Near Fort McMurray With Three People Down; Search Planes Dispatched

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - A pilot and a biologist with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development were killed and another person was recovering in hospital after a helicopter crashed in northern Alberta on Wednesday.

RCMP say the pilot, a male, and the female passenger died of their injuries while a male passenger was listed in serious but stable condition.

“I offer my deepest sympathies to the families involved in this tragic event,” Premier Alison Redford said in a news release.

“The loss of a family member, coworker or friend is truly one of life’s biggest challenges, and I hope that those close to the individuals find comfort in friends and loved ones during this difficult time.”

Redford said the man recovering in hospital also works for the government.

“On behalf of the Government of Alberta, I offer my deepest sympathies to those affected by this tragedy," said Environment Minister Diana McQueen. "My heart goes out to the families of both individuals, including their work families who now grieve for their colleagues.

“Another department biologist is currently in hospital suffering from significant injuries sustained during the crash. I wish him a speedy and full recovery.”

Michael Morin, president of Aurora Helicopters Ltd., confirmed one of the company's aircraft went down around 11 a.m. Wednesday about 128 kilometres north Fort McMurray, Alta.

"We are deeply saddened by this event and feel the loss greatly," he said.

Transportation Safety Board investigators were expected to arrive at the remote and heavily wooded area on Thursday.

RCMP officers and two military aircraft responded to the crash.

Aurora Helicopters, the parent company of Wood Buffalo Helicopters, says it has operated in the area for more than 25 years.

The company's website says it offers services including helicopter tours, support for the energy industry, pipeline and environmental monitoring and wildfire fighting services.

It operates a fleet of helicopters including Bell 206 Jet Rangers, as well as EC120B Calibri and AS350-B2 AStar Eurocopters.

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