Search grows for Arctic MLA and party missing on Baffin Island | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Search grows for Arctic MLA and party missing on Baffin Island

March 29, 2016 - 12:18 PM

IQALUIT, Nunavut - The search is ramping up for a Nunavut politician and his snowmobiling companions missing for days on the tundra of Baffin Island.

"We just hope that they're using their skills to remain safe," said Kris Mullaly, spokesman for the territorial government department co-ordinating search efforts.

Nunavut MLA Pauloosie Keeyootak left Iqaluit on March 22 and was supposed to have arrived at his destination the next day. But he and his two travelling companions never arrived in Pangnirtung, about 300 kilometres away.

The route is well-travelled, with three cabins located along the way.

But Mullaly said Tuesday a search is now fully underway.

Teams are tracing the path on snowmobile from both ends. Aircraft are in the skies, including a Twin Otter from the territorial government, a Hercules from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, and a Cormorant military helicopter.

Conditions are cold but clear, Mullaly said.

"It's great weather for us conducting the search."

The Hercules is also equipped with thermal imaging gear to allow it to search at night, he said.

Nunavummiut often head out on the land in spring, taking advantage of the longer daylight and lingering snow and sea ice to go hunting or visiting friends and relations after a long winter. The route between Iqaluit and Pangnirtung is a popular one and takes about 11 hours in good conditions, said Mullaly.

However, recent high winds are likely to have sculpted snow along the way into hard-packed ridges and drifts.

"That just carves up the trail," Mullaly said. "The terrain is rough."

Mullaly said the travellers are not thought to have a radio or other communication device with them.

Keeyootak represents a riding on the east coast of Baffin Island.

— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow him on Twitter at @row1960

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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