Alaska: float plane collision: 5 dead, 1 missing

Two sightseeing planes collided Monday afternoon off the coast of Alaska, leaving five people dead and one unaccounted for, according to Princess Cruises. All 14 passengers on the two planes came from the cruise ship Royal Princess, which was on a seven-day trip from Vancouver, B.C., to Anchorage.

“We are deeply saddened to report this news and our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives and the families impacted by today’s accident,” the company said in a statement, according to KOMO.

The two planes collided Monday at 1:08 p.m. local time, according to Princess Cruises, about eight nautical miles off Ketchikan, Alaska.

One plane, a de Havilland Otter seaplane operated by Taquan Air, was carrying 10 guests from the cruise ship as well as a pilot, returning from a tour of the nearby Misty Fjords National Monument. The other aircraft, which was operated by an “independent tour,” according to the cruise line, carried fou
r Royal Princess passengers and a pilot.

The U.S. Coast Guard scrambled a rescue mission after the crash, sending an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and two 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crews from its base in Ketchikan.

The Coast Guard recovered nine guests and the pilot from the Taquan Air flight, according to the cruise line and a separate statement from the air operator. The 10th passenger on that flight was unaccounted for as of Monday night.

All four passengers on the independently operated tour flight died in the crash, Princess Cruises said, as did the pilot of that plane.

Ten people rescued from the crash were being treated at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center, USA Today reported, and one of those patients was in critical condition.

In a news release, the Coast Guard said it is “unaware” of why the planes crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to Alaska to investigate the crash.