Published: Thu, May 16, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

B.C. couple identified as victims of Alaska plane crash

B.C. couple identified as victims of Alaska plane crash

Five people are dead and 10 others are injured after two planes carrying cruise passengers taking part in shore excursions collided mid-air over Southeast Alaska.

Ten other passengers have been taken to hospital following the incident on Monday near the town of Ketchikan. Preliminary reports to the Coast Guard indicate that this was a mid-air collision between the two planes.

The two planes carried a total of 14 passengers from the Royal Princess ship when the collision occurred Monday near Ketchikan, a popular tourist spot on southern Alaskan cruise routes surrounded by fjords and dense forests. Six people were injured in the crash landings near Ketchikan while conducting sightseeing tours in George Inlet. The 14-member team from the National Transportation Safety Board that began investigating the crash on Tuesday is unlikely to determine the cause during the week the team will be at the scene, NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy told a news conference.

The other plane, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, was operating an independent flight tour carrying a pilot and four guests, of which two were American, one was Canadian and the other was Australian, the company added.

Seaplanes have pontoons mounted under the fuselage so they can land on water.

Eleven people were inside a single-engine de Havilland Otter DHC-3 operated by Taquan Air when it went down as it returned from Misty Fjords National Monument.

Ten of those aboard the first plane survived and were taken to hospital.

All patients were in fair or good condition, according to Marty West, a spokeswoman for PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center. The plane had descended to an altitude of 3,200 to 3,300 feet when it collided with the single-engine de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, as both headed to Ketchikan.

The passengers involved in the accident were on a flight-seeing excursion while the boat was docked in Ketchikan. The plane with 11 on board was operated by Taquan Air.

"We are devastated by today's incident and our hearts go out to our passengers and their families", Taquan Air said. She said the ship is not leaving as scheduled and there weren't any details as to how the accident will affect the rest of the trip. Princess Cruise line is offering grief counselors on the ship.

The Royal Princess departed Vancouver last Saturday, and was scheduled to arrive in Anchorage, AK on Saturday May 18. "Princess Cruises is extending its full support to traveling companions of the guests involved", said the company.

Weather conditions in the area on Monday included high overcast skies with 9 miles per hour southeast winds.

Local authorities told the FAA that five people were on board the Beaver and 11 people were on board the Otter.

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