US & Canada

Five French tourists missing in Canada snowmobile accident

A woman riding a snowmobile Image copyright Toronto Star via Getty Images
Image caption Snowmobiling is a popular winter activity in rural Canada

Five French nationals who were on a snowmobile trip in the Canadian province of Quebec are missing after their vehicles fell through ice on the edge of a lake.

Their Canadian guide died in the incident on Tuesday evening.

Police say a group of eight French tourists were exploring the province's Lac St Jean region when the accident occurred.

Three of the tourists were able to drive to safety and call police.

The group were not travelling along a trail marked for snowmobiling, say police, and ended up on very thin ice on a snow-covered channel near Lac St Jean when their vehicles went through the ice.

The call to emergency services came around 19:30 local time (00:30 GMT) from a store in the town of Saint-Henri-de-Taillon, about 225 km (140 miles) north of Quebec city, Sûreté du Québec [SQ]spokesman Hugues Beaulieu told the BBC.

Police and members of the Canadian Armed Forces searched the region overnight. The 42-year-old tour guide was recovered from the water by emergency services and later declared dead at the hospital.

On Wednesday, eight divers from the SQ police force and two helicopters arrived on the scene to assist in the search, said Mr Beaulieu.

He said it was "possible but not likely" that the five missing tourists had survived overnight in temperatures below freezing.

Quebec's public safety minister said that French authorities have been informed of the incident.

The search was briefly hampered when a helicopter pilot was injured in a crash near the eastern part of the lake on Wednesday afternoon. He was the only person on board.

The cause of the crash is being investigated but police say it it did not end the search for the missing tourists, which is expected to continue through the night.

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