Two men survive crash, frigid night on Arctic ice

Mon Dec 8, 2008 2:20pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Two men believed to be from Sweden escaped with only "minor frostbite" after their small plane crashed in northern Canada and they spent a night on the Arctic ice near Baffin Island before being rescued.

An air search for the men was unsuccessful on Sunday evening, but a fishing vessel picked up the two men on Monday morning and they were later flown to Iqaluit, Nunavut, for medical treatment.

"They had some minor frostbite but other than that they were in good spirits and good health," said Major Denis McGuire of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

In Iqaluit, the normal low temperature at this time of year is -25 degrees Celsius (-13 Fahrenheit), according to Environment Canada, although press reports said it was -13C around the time the men were picked up.

"They were very fortunate, they were wearing proper safety equipment and managed to scramble from the aircraft just prior to its sinking into the water," McGuire said.

The two men left Wabush, Labrador, in a twin-engine Cessna bound for Iqaluit for refueling before their planned flight to Europe, he said.

"My understanding is they didn't actually go into the water themselves, which certainly contributed to them being alive today," McGuire said.

(Reporting by Lynne Olver; Editing by Frank McGurty)