UPDATE: Two confirmed dead in tugboat capsizing near Kitimat

Third person rescued from shore and brought to hospital

The Gardner Canal, south of Kitimat, where a tugboat capsized yesterday. (Mapcarta)

The Gardner Canal, south of Kitimat, where a tugboat capsized yesterday. (Mapcarta)

Two men are dead and another one rescued from a capsized tugboat southeast of Kitimat in the early morning hours of Feb. 11.

BC Coroners service confirmed they are investigating two deaths related to a tugboat incident near Kitimat.

A tugboat owned by Wainwright Marine Services in Prince Rupert, was towing a barge in the Gardner Canal 35 nautical miles south of Kitimat where it capsized and the emergency beacon activated.

Conditions at the time were reported as very windy.

An RCMP release states at 12:40 a.m. the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) tasked an RCMP West Coast Marine vessel to attend the scene, where officers found the first deceased man.

The Canadian Coast Guard also assisted in the search and rescue operation, and found the second deceased man.

The JRCC dispatched a CC-115 Buffalo fixed wing aircraft and a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from the Canadian Forces Base Comox, but bad weather hampered their search efforts.

However a private helicopter spotted one male survivor on the shore who was soon transported to the local hospital.

READ MORE: Coast Guard rescue stranded boaters from island

Work Safe BC and the Transportation Safety Board have been advised of the incident.

BC Coroners Service will be conducting a parallel investigation into the deaths.

The barge was carrying cargo in connection with the Rio Tinto project to drill a second tunnel at its Kemano hydro-electric generating facility.

Water from the Nechako Reservoir flows through a first tunnel down to hydro-electric generators at Kemano to produce electricity which is then transmitted through power lines to Rio Tinto’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat.

The second tunnel is meant to provide a backup if required to ensure electricity can be generated using water from the Nechako Reservoir.

READ MORE: Two B.C. Indigenous Coast Guard auxiliary units receive big financial boost

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