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Premier wants Makkovik search reviewed

The following news story was posted by the CBC:

Premier Dunderdale wants search for dead Labrador boy reviewed
Newfoundland premier questions why Cormorant wasn’t used in Burton Winters search
CBC News, February 10, 2012

Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier is calling for a review of the military’s role in the search for a 14-year-old boy who was found dead off the coast of Labrador last week.

“There are a number of questions that I don’t believe we have had satisfactory answers to. The family needs them, the community needs them and the people of this province need them,” Kathy Dunderdale told the CBC News show On Point about the search for Burton Winters.

Winters was reported missing from Makkovik, on Labrador’s northern coast, on Jan. 29 and found three days later.

Department of National Defence officials were in Labrador on Feb. 8 to explain the military’s part in the search, but Dunderdale is calling for more answers about what happened.

“I’ve asked my minister to go to the Department of National Defence and ask for more information,” she said.

Military aircraft didn’t respond until two days after Winters was reported missing to police. A helicopter was never sent from the military’s base in central Newfoundland, after it was discovered neither of the military’s Labrador-based Griffon helicopters was able to help initially on Jan. 30.

Dunderdale said the military may have had good reasons for not sending a Cormorant search and rescue helicopter from Gander, N.L., to Makkovik, but they haven’t made them clear.

“Why not? That’s the question we need answered. There may have been very sound reasons for not doing that, but we don’t know what they are and we need to know what they are,” she said.

Search services ‘not satisfactory’

Dunderdale also said she doesn’t understand why a commercial helicopter was able to help with the search at a time when the military said its helicopters were grounded by weather.

“People in this province have an expectation and a right to these kind of services, and the way they were provided in this case was not satisfactory,” said Dunderdale.

Winters was found dead on the sea ice after walking 19 kilometres from his abandoned snowmobile. Police reported he had signs of hypothermia and he was found with his jacket removed.

Dunderdale reached out to his family members, who have also criticized the military’s response.

“We can only imagine their grief and sorrow …and we all feel it and we also understand that they are very angry and we understand that as well,” she said.

On Thursday, protesters gathered in some Labrador communities and St. John’s to call for better military search and rescue services in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dunderdale said she will “absolutely” raise her concerns about the services in future meetings with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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