Five dead after two planes carrying cruise ship passengers collide in Alaska

Author
AP,
Section
World,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 1:26PM
The passengers were travelling on the Royal Princess cruise ship. Photo / Supplied
The passengers were travelling on the Royal Princess cruise ship. Photo / Supplied

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.

Princess Cruises confirmed that the pilot of a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver and all four passengers were killed in the collision with a de Havilland Otter DHC-3 just after 1pm local time about eight nautical miles from the town of Ketchikan.

"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 said in a statement.

"Princess Cruises is extending its full support to travelling companions of the guests involved."

The cruise was on a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers that departed Vancouver on May 11 and is scheduled to arrive in Anchorage on Saturday, May 18.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios told The Associated Press the DHC-3 was carrying 11 people. He added that the 10 injured were from the larger plane and an 11th person was among the missing.

Emergency response crews transport an injured passenger to an ambulance at the George Inlet Lodge docks. Photo / AP

Emergency response crews transport an injured passenger to an ambulance at the George Inlet Lodge docks. (Photo / AP)

According to PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center spokesperson Mischa Chernick, three of the injured people are in serious condition and seven are in fair condition,

It is understood the Otter floatplane was returning from a Misty Fjords tour while the Beaver floatplane was on an independent tour.

A passenger on the Royal Princess cruise ship said 14 people on the two floatplanes that crashed in mid-air Monday in Alaska were cruise passengers.

With one passenger still unaccounted for, the Coast Guard has dispatched helicopters and boats for search and rescue operations.

Cindy Cicchetti told The Associated Press that the ship captain announced that two planes were in an accident on Monday and said the conditions of the passengers wasn't immediately known.

Cicchetti said the ship was not leaving as scheduled and there weren't any details as to how the accident would affect the rest of the trip.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said it was not known what caused the planes to collide in mid-air near Ketchikan in southeast Alaska.

In a statement to CNBC, Taquan Air, the company which operated the De Havilland Otter plane, said it has suspended all flights.

"We are devastated by today's incident and our hearts go out to our passengers and their families," Taquan Air said.

"At this time, we are 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."

One of the aircraft involved the Alaskan accident, the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, is the same model of floatplane that crashed and killed six people in Sydney on New Year's Eve in 2017.

The de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver floatplane flew off course, despite clear conditions, and nosedived into the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney, killing the pilot and five members of a British family on board.

A preliminary report by the ATSB found there were no obvious mechanical defects or fuel contamination on the aircraft, which was up-to-date with maintenance checks and flown by a well-qualified pilot, Canadian-born Gareth Morgan, 44.

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