IQALUIT, Nunavut — The search is expanding on the tundra of Baffin Island for a Nunavut member of the legislature and his two companions who haven’t been seen for more than a week.
“In any kind of search situation, the area that your’re searching changes and expands as you go through the days,” said search spokesman Kris Mullaly.
Pauloosie Keeyootak and two others left the capital of Iqaluit eight days ago for an overnight snowmobile trip to Pangnirtung. They didn’t arrive the next day as expected and it’s believed they don’t have a communications radio with them.
The well-travelled route is about 300 kilometres long over tundra and mountain passes and has several cabins along the way. The trip normally takes about 11 hours.
Search parties from both communities have retraced the route and are revisiting some areas for a second search, Mullaly said. Weather has been good — clear and cold, ideal for visibility.
Several aircraft have also been involved in the search, including a Hercules from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, a Twin Otter from the Nunavut government and an military Cormorant helicopter.
The Hercules is now searching the coastline of Cumberland Sound and the Cormorant has moved to the east coast of Frobisher Bay, said Mullaly.
He said the travellers are experienced.
“They’re hunters. They have good survival skills to remain on the land.”
This time of year sees many Nunavummiut out on the land to take advantage of long days and lingering snow and sea ice for hunting or visiting friends and relations after a long winter. Travellers are being asked to wear blaze orange vests so aerial searchers won’t mistake them for Keeyootak’s party.
Local people are well-versed in how to look for those delayed out on the tundra. Mullaly said this is Nunavut’s 59th official search so far this year.
“At any given time, there could be a number of searches going on.”