Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic January 03, 2018 - 1:00 pm

What you read on Nunatsiaqonline.ca in 2017: the year’s most-read stories

Leading the pack: the saga of the Swiss International flight

JANE GEORGE
Antonov to the rescue! The huge four-engine aircraft lands at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 4 in Iqaluit, with a new engine for the Swiss International Airlines Boeing 777-300, as many plane-spotters gather, in their vehicles, at the end of the runway to catch the landing. The story of the Swiss International's emergency landing in Iqaluit and the efforts made to repair the disabled aircraft led the most-read online news stories in 2017. (PHOTO BY MIALI BUSCEMI)
Antonov to the rescue! The huge four-engine aircraft lands at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 4 in Iqaluit, with a new engine for the Swiss International Airlines Boeing 777-300, as many plane-spotters gather, in their vehicles, at the end of the runway to catch the landing. The story of the Swiss International's emergency landing in Iqaluit and the efforts made to repair the disabled aircraft led the most-read online news stories in 2017. (PHOTO BY MIALI BUSCEMI)
After the June 18 tsunami in Greenland, a house from Nuugaatsiaq, where 11 houses were swept into the sea, floats by the community, in this photo taken by the Arctic Joint Command. A story about the tsunami on Nunatsiaqonline.ca—the first extensive news coverage in English about the disaster—was the among the top five online stories of 2017.
After the June 18 tsunami in Greenland, a house from Nuugaatsiaq, where 11 houses were swept into the sea, floats by the community, in this photo taken by the Arctic Joint Command. A story about the tsunami on Nunatsiaqonline.ca—the first extensive news coverage in English about the disaster—was the among the top five online stories of 2017.
A fire, which started late Feb. 28 and burned overnight, completely destroys Kugaardjuq school in Kugaaruk. The news that police charged a 13-year-old local youth with arson in connection to the fire was among the top 10 Nunatsiaqonline.ca stories of 2017. (FILE IMAGE)
A fire, which started late Feb. 28 and burned overnight, completely destroys Kugaardjuq school in Kugaaruk. The news that police charged a 13-year-old local youth with arson in connection to the fire was among the top 10 Nunatsiaqonline.ca stories of 2017. (FILE IMAGE)

In 2017, Nunatsiaqonline.ca recorded about five million page views, according to Google Analytics, which tracks online traffic.

And of the hundreds of stories that kept readers coming back to the site, the most popular was the unfolding news last February about a Swiss International jet that made a surprise landing in Iqaluit.

Others among the top 10 stories were sadder. They reported, among other tragedies, the deaths of three Rankin Inlet men who fell through the ice and the deaths of two other people in Iqaluit who died when a boat exploded.

A tsunami in Greenland, which occurred last June, also drew many readers from around the eastern Arctic and the rest of the world.

The story of the unexpected landing of a Swiss jet in Iqaluit was told in several parts, starting with the news of the aircraft’s emergency landing Feb. 1 in Iqaluit, then the arrival of a replacement engine and finally the recounting of its departure a week later from Iqaluit.

When the aircraft landed in iqaluit, after one of its engines shut down en route from Zurich to Los Angeles, some of the roughly 200 passengers on board had hoped to disembark, tour the city, perhaps visit the recently opened new aquatic facility and get a bite to eat before heading on to Los Angeles.

Instead, because the Iqaluit airport then, unlike the new Iqaluit International Airport, lacked a secure customs facility, they learned they would remain on the aircraft until they boarded a new plane in the early hours of Feb. 2.

But that only solved part of the problem. To get the disabled Boeing 777-300 in the air again, a huge Antonov 124 freighter was sent in Feb. 4, carrying a new $24-million engine for the disabled aircraft.

The Antonov’s landing on Saturday, Feb. 4 attracted Iqaluit plane-spotters to the end of the airport’s runway at 3:30 p.m. just before the sunset turned the snow pink and deep purple—and despite a windchill of -46 C.

The Swiss International flight left Feb. 8 for Zurich—followed by the departure of the Antonov late in the evening for the U.K.

The death of three Rankin Inlet men last January after their large snow machine fell through sea ice—which would typically have been frozen solid at that time of year—became the second most-read story of 2017 on Nunatsiaqonline.ca.

On Jan. 21 at about 8:30 a.m., the Whale Cove RCMP received a call that a vehicle with four occupants, had fallen through the ice.

The men were travelling in a large vehicle with tracks, skis and enclosed cab, often marketed under the name “snow cat” or “snow bus,” but known in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region as a “Bombardier,” pronounced there as “bombadeer.”

The RCMP’s investigation found that the four men, aged 27 to 55, were travelling on the sea ice from Rankin Inlet to Arviat when their vehicle broke through the ice near Whale Cove.

Ice was late to form in Hudson Bay in 2016, with ice in November only at roughly 40 per cent of its usual extent, according to the Canadian Ice Service.

Police said it’s believed the men were transporting a truck and snowmobiles when they fell through the ice.

Almost three weeks after three Rankin Inlet men drowned, this community gathered for the Feb. 9 funeral mass for the three men who died: Patrick Kaludjak, 55,  and three relatives, James Mucpah Kaludjak, 42, Billy Kaludjak, 33.

Only Corey Panika, 27, survived.

A report about another deadly incident became the fourth most-read story of 2017: John Manning, 57, and Noel Priddle, 50, died after an explosion destroyed a boat that was parked alongside Manning’s house in the Lower Base area of Iqaluit July 6.

Priddle died the day of the explosion, while Manning died in an Ottawa hospital on July 9. A third man survived.

While Manning’s family was in Ottawa, their home was broken into and many carvings taken, another blow to the grieving family.

The 2017 New Year’s Eve fireworks display in Iqaluit was dedicated to Manning.

News of a natural disaster also brought many readers to Nunatsiaqonline.ca. On June 18 a tsunami along Greenland’s northwestern coast, facing Baffin Island to the west, left two people seriously injured, seven slightly injured, four people missing and 11 houses in the village of Nuugaatsiaq, population about 100, completely destroyed or swept out to sea.

Everyone in Greenland reached out with donations of money, goods and artwork, as well as with prayer vigils, to help and support those who lost their relatives, homes and belongings as water poured into Nuugaatsiaq at about midnight June 18.

“It’s hard to believe what happened last night,” Greenland’s Prime Minister Kim Kielsen said in a June 18 Facebook post. “After the earthquake in Nuugaatsiaq we were made aware that the forces of nature can suddenly change… what happened is tragic and my thoughts are with everyone from Nuugaatsiaq.”

The tsumani was caused by a landslide that could be linked to changes in the climate, experts said later.

Nunavut also donated $25,000 for Greenland tsunami relief effort and others rallied to help those affected by the tsunami, who are still unable to return home.

”GN is pleased to help the greater Arctic community,” then-premier Peter Taptuna said.

Also among the top 10 most-read stories of 2017:

Four people died in the Hudson Bay community of Akulivik June 10 after Illutak Anautak, 19, who was among those who died, went on an early morning rampage in the community of about 600, stabbing five people.

Lucassie Anautak, 36, Putulik Anautak, 12, and Eli Qinuajuak, 32, all three relatives of Illutak Anautak, died from their wounds.

Officers from the Kativik Regional Police Force found the teenager while he was armed with a knife and prepared to enter a fourth home.They then fired to prevent him from entering. He fell to the ground and got up to approach the police who fired again, fatally wounding him.

Friends and family of the Akulivik youth said they were at a loss to explain what might have motivated the “quiet,” “nice guy” to attack and kill his family members early June 10. Two survived the attack.

• The Nunavut RCMP charged a 13-year-old with arson in connection with the fire that destroyed Kugaaruk’s only school March 1.

A Nunavut judge later adjourned the matter of a Kugaaruk youth charged with arson until the spring of 2018.

The 13-year-old, identified as S.N. in court documents, was charged with arson linked to a fire that destroyed Kugaardjuq school. The school’s 300 students have since returned to school, using, among other spaces, portables for classrooms.

• The Nunavut RCMP continues to seek information about the July death of an 11-year-old Kivalliq boy. Ray Taparti Jr. was found in an industrial area in Rankin Inlet July 7. Police, with the help of the local search and rescue group, found the body of the boy, who was also known as “OJ,” after he had gone missing near the end of the Canada Day long weekend.

At the time, police said the death was suspicious. After an autopsy, police said they’re treating it as a homicide.

Anyone with information about the boy’s death is asked to contact the Nunavut Major Crime Unit toll free at 1-844-370-7729.

• A former Nunavut teacher received a sentence of house arrest for a historic sex assault: Emil Arnalak of Arviat, 57, received a sentence of four months under house arrest after he pleaded guilty in May to sexually assaulting a young student inside his classroom during the 1980s.

According to facts submitted to the court, Arnalak sexually assaulted a young girl who was sitting on his lap while the students in a class he was teaching watched a movie in March 1987.  Arnalak worked as teacher in Arviat for 17 years, during the 1980s and 1990s. His classroom at the time of the assault was composed of either Grade 1 or Grade 2 students.

Two Nunavik women died in fatal car incident June 3, with Alain Thurber, 62, of Kuujjuaq then charged with impaired driving causing death, an indictable offence. Thurber, who worked for the Kativik Regional Government in Kuujjuaq, was charged with two charges of impaired driving causing death and a charge of operating a vehicle while impaired, “having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in the person’s blood exceeds 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.”

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