On Thursday afternoon, residents of Puvirnituq, a small Inuit community in Nunavik in northern Quebec, were stunned to see a Canadian Coast Guard Bell 429 helicopter crash right next to the airport on the outskirts of the town.
Residents soon began posting photos of the wreckage on social media showing the helicopter torn in half.
On Friday, Transport Canada spokesperson Hicham Ayoun confirmed that the sole occupant of the vehicle was unharmed.
“No injuries were reported and the pilot was the sole occupant,” Ayoun said in a statement.
The helicopter was heavily damaged. Transport Canada is investigating the incident and will work with the Canadian Coast Guard, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and other authorities to understand how such an accident could have occurred.
According to a resident who told the Ottawa Citizen that his mother saw the accident happen while she was picking berries, a cargo hook under the helicopter could have snagged on a nearby metal structure, causing the accident.
Nunavik Police Service operations assistant Jean-Francois Morin told CBC North that the crash happened near a popular berry picking spot, so many witnesses to the accident were able to rush to help.