WESM

Tourist Seaplanes Collide In Alaska, Killing At Least 4

May 14, 2019

Two seaplanes crashed Monday afternoon in Southeast Alaska, killing at least four people. Ten others were injured in the collision.

Two people were still missing, the Coast Guard told The Associated Press.

Both planes were carrying passengers from a Royal Princess cruise ship on sightseeing trips. A float plane operated by Taquan Air was carrying 11 people and a smaller plane, operated by an unidentified tour company, was carrying five near Ketchikan.

The Coast Guard said Monday that preliminary reports indicate a mid-air collision of the two planes. The aircraft involved were a Beaver float plane and an Otter float plane.

As Leila Kheiry of NPR member station KRBD reports, the planes crashed into George Inlet, part of Alaska's Inside Passage:

"Jerry Kiffer of Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad told KRBD that the DeHavilland Beaver and Otter both were in the water when rescue crews arrived at the scene.

" 'Both of them were near shore: One on one side of George Inlet, one on the other side,' he said.

"Kiffer says the Beaver was upside down in saltwater near the beach close to Mahoney Lake. The Otter was on the other side of the inlet, with 10 people on shore nearby.

"Kiffer says there were various injuries among those passengers. He says some were taken to town by an Allen Marine boat. Others were taken to town by helicopter, and then to the hospital by ambulance."

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending its investigators to the crash site. They are due to arrive Tuesday afternoon.

"In a remote area such as this, given our limited resources, we rely on our partner agencies and appreciate the support that good Samaritans have rendered to this point," Coast Guard Sector Juneau commander Capt. Stephen White said in a statement. "With the loss of life in this case, we know that the impact to Alaska is immense and our thoughts are with the community here."

Princess Cruises said the Taquan Air flight was returning from a tour of the Misty Fjords when the accident occurred.

"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," Princess Cruises said in a statement to news outlets.

The cruise left Vancouver on May 11 and is scheduled to arrive in Anchorage on Saturday, the company said.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.