6 dead after floatplane crashes in southeast Alaska, Coast Guard says

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A sightseeing plane crashed Thursday in southeast Alaska, killing all six people on board, including the plane's pilot, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The five passengers were Holland America Line cruise passengers, the cruise line said on Twitter.

"An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Sitka located the wreckage at 2:37 p.m. and lowered two rescue swimmers who reported no survivors," the Coast Guard said in a statement.

The Coast Guard along with Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Alaska State Troopers, U.S. Forest Service and the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad responded to the area of the crash, according to a statement from the Alaska Department of Public Safety, provided by public information officer Austin McDaniel. The Coast Guard discovered the crash site in "a steep mountainous area," the statement continued.

The identities of those killed in the crash were not immediately released.

The floatplane, an aircraft that can be supported by floats on water, left from Misty Fjords National Monument and "crashed near Ketchikan, Alaska, around 11:19 a.m. local time today," Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Donnell Evans told USA TODAY in a statement.

The plane left from Misty Fjords and was on its way to Ketchikan.

The five passengers on the flight were from the Holland America Line cruise ship Nieuw Amsterdam, the company said in a statement. Holland America expressed its condolences on Twitter late Thursday.

"We can confirm that a float plane carrying five guests from Nieuw Amsterdam was involved in an accident in Ketchikan, and there are no survivors," Holland America said. "It was an independent tour not sold by Holland America Line. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims."

The ship stopped in Ketchikan on Thursday and delayed its afternoon departure after the plane crash. The company said it was making counseling services available to guests and crew.

The Nieuw Amsterdam was wrapping up a seven-day cruise in Alaska which departed from Seattle on Saturday. Ketchikan is a popular cruise ship destination, and passengers can take various sightseeing excursions while in port. Popular among them are trips to Misty Fjords National Monument, where visitors can see glacier valleys, snowcapped peaks and numerous lakes in the wilderness area.

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The Coast Guard was first on the scene, responding Thursday morning to an emergency alert from a sightseeing plane in the area, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow told the Associated Press.

A de Havilland Beaver, the model of the plane missing in Alaska.
A de Havilland Beaver, the model of the plane missing in Alaska.

This isn't the first aviation incident that has occurred in the area.

In 2019, two planes collided midair, killing six of the 16 people on board the two planes. Those planes were also carrying cruise ship passengers.

The plane involved Thursday, a de Havilland Beaver, was owned by Southeast Aviation LLC, Wadlow said.

"Our hearts are shattered at the loss of six people today," Southeast Aviation LLC said in a statement shared by spokesperson Bri Kelly. "We are thinking of and grieving with the families of the five passengers and our dear friend and pilot aboard the aircraft. We are cooperating with the first responders and agencies involved, including the U.S. Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board and Alaska State Troopers. All of us share in the anguish of this tragic incident, and our prayers go out to all affected."

The company on its website says it provides sightseeing tours to Misty Fjords National Monument and bear-viewing sites, along with air charters to other communities in southeast Alaska.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alaska floatplane crash: 6 dead, including Holland America passengers

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