Airliner Crashes During Disaster Exercise

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A Canadian airliner crashed, killing 12 people of 15 people aboard, in the middle of a mock military and civil defense exercise that was simulating an airliner crash in the country's high Arctic. The First Air Boeing 737-200 was not part of the exercise but was on a charter flight to Resolute Bay in the northern territory of Nunavut. The elderly airliner crashed into a hillside near the airport while emergency workers and the military were at the peak of readiness during Operation Nanook. "We're here to improve our capabilities to operate in the Arctic ... The operation was going to involve an air disaster scenario that would have seen us responding to an aircraft going down in the Arctic, which, unfortunately, is exactly what played out today," Royal Canadian Air Force spokesman Andrew Hennessy told Sun Media Group. "The aircraft was not involved in the exercise - this was a civilian charter." Airport workers said the airport was blanketed by thick fog at the time of the crash, about 12:50 p.m. local time.

The civilian and military personnel immediately joined the rescue effort, dousing the burning wreck and pulling the plane's occupants out. Initial reports say two flight attendants and a seven-year-old girl were the lone survivors and that the passengers were all residents of the Resolute Bay area.