Authorities confirm 6 dead in Alaska plane crash

NTSB investigating possible causes

By Amir Vera, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

Planes collide near Ketchikan Alaska.

KETCHIKAN, Alaska - The U.S. Coast Guard says death toll has risen to six, after sightseeing planes collided in midair near Ketchikan, Alaska, the Associated Press reports.

The passengers on both planes were guests on a Princess Cruises ship, the Royal Princess, which is on a seven-day trip.

Ten people were rescued and are receiving medical care following the collision between a Beaver floatplane and an Otter floatplane, the Coast Guard said Tuesday in a statement.

A floatplane is an aircraft with pontoons or floats that allow it to land on water.

Commercial divers recovered one body Monday night from the submerged Otter floatplane, the Coast Guard said.

Fourteen Americans, one Canadian and one Australian were on the two planes, according to the Coast Guard.

The crash happened around 1 p.m. (5 p.m. ET) and involved two planes carrying Royal Princess passengers on separate excursions, Princess Cruises said.

One plane, operated by Taquan Air, was flying a shore excursion -- a tour of Alaska's Misty Fjords -- sold through Princess Cruises. It was carrying 10 passengers and a pilot, the cruise line said.

The second plane was carrying a pilot and four passengers on an independent tour, the company said.

One Taquan Air passenger died, Princess Cruises said. Three people aboard the other plane -- two American passengers and an American pilot -- died, Princess Cruises said.

"Rescue efforts continue for the two other guests, one Australian and one Canadian," the cruise line said.

"We are deeply saddened to report this news and our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives and the families of those impacted by today's accident. Princess Cruises is extending its full support to traveling companions of the guests involved," the company said Monday.

The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad is searching the shoreline and forested areas near the crash site, according to the Coast Guard. Commercial divers remain on scene to assist in the search.

Taquan Air, a regional airline based in Ketchikan, released a statement saying it was "in the midst of an active crisis response, and our focus is on assisting these passengers, the pilot, our staff, their families and loved ones, and first responders."

"Taquan Air has suspended all scheduled flights and is cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other authorities to examine every aspect of this event," the Taquan Air statement said.

The NTSB tweeted Monday night that it was launching a "go team" to investigate the collision.

The Royal Princess' current voyage originated in Vancouver, British Columbia, over the weekend and is scheduled to end Saturday in Anchorage, Alaska, the company said. Part of the voyage, the company's website said, included "scenic glacier viewing" with stops at Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway.

CNN's Joe Sutton, Darran Simon, Dave Alsup, Amanda Jackson and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.

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