Two seaplanes collided mid-air on Monday over southeastern Alaska, killing five people including four Royal Princess cruise guests and one pilot.
The plane was flying a shore excursion sold through Princess Cruises when it collided with a Taquan float plane about 8 nautical miles from Ketchikan, Alaska.
Ten people were injured and the condition of one guest was unknown, according to a statement released by Princess Cruises.
Three people were still missing, US Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration officials said.
The two aircrafts involved were an Otter float plane carrying 11 people and a Beaver float plane with five people on board.
A passenger on the Princess Cruise revealed an announcement was made at 6.30pm saying four fellow guests had died, nine were in hospital and one was missing.
She said family of those involved in the crash were removed from the ship prior to the announcement being made out of respect.
“We are now taking off Juneau and will arrive two hours late, so shore excursions are being reviewed.
“It’s a very sad day here on the Royal Princess. God Bless our shipmates and their families. Our hearts are broken here.”
The two crafts went down over water about 40-48 km northeast of Ketchikan, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios, speaking from Juneau.
Coast Guard Sector Juneau Command Center watchstanders launched a helicopter and two 45 foot response boats from Station Ketchikan.
#breaking: Princess Cruises says 5 people are dead, including 4 Royal Princess guests and pilot after Taquan float plane crashed about 8 nautical miles from Ketchikan, Alaska. The plane was flying a shore excursion sold through Princess Cruises.
Princess Cruises Statement below. pic.twitter.com/CTssjYrJIA
— Preston Phillips (@PrestonTVNews) May 14, 2019
In a statement shared to Twitter, the cruise line company said it was “deeply saddened” at the news of the accident.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives and the families of those impacted by the accident,” the statement read.
The crash site, which the FAA said was at Coon Cove near George Inlet, lies in the vicinity of a popular tourist lodge that runs excursions to the nearby Misty Fjords National Monument, about 300 miles (480 km) south of Juneau, Alaska's capital.
One of the aircraft involved was a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver with five people aboard, and the other was a de Havilland Otter DHC-3 carrying 11 people, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said in an email message, citing information from local authorities.
Neither of the single-engine planes was under air traffic control when they collided, and circumstances of the crash were not immediately known, Kenitzer said.
We are about to depart Ketchikan, AK and as we start to learn of the plane crash, our captain just made this announcement. I am on a different Princess cruise that was also docked here today. We are safe, but this is horrible news. pic.twitter.com/f4SqJtbbnQ
— Kattey Ortiz (@KatteyOrtizTV) May 14, 2019
The collision was the third for a Taquan Air sight-seeing plane in the past four years - in an accident in 2015 eight cruise passengers and a pilot died in what investigators blamed on the pilot and company’s relaxed safety culture.
Last year another flight carrying 11 people crashed into a mountainside due to the pilot turning off a device designed to warn them about upcoming terrain.
All were injured but survived the incident.
British businessman Richard Cousins, four members of his family and Canadian pilot Gareth Morgan died in a horrific seaplane crash in Sydney’s Hawkesbury River on New Year’s Eve, 2017.
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