Five people were killed, 10 others were injured and one person was unaccounted for Monday after two floatplanes carrying cruise passengers taking part in shore excursions collided in mid-air over Southeast Alaska, officials said.
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 1 p.m. local time near 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 traveling companions of the guests involved.”
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 the 11th person was among the missing.
A spokeswoman for PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center told the AP one patient is in critical condition, three are in good condition and the others are in fair condition.
In an earlier statement, Princess Cruises said the larger plane was operated by Taquan Air and was flying on an excursion sold through the cruise line while the second, smaller plane was operating an independent tour.
A spokeswoman for the Ketchikan flightseeing company told the AP Taquan has suspended operations while federal authorities investigate the deadly crash.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the planes collided under unknown circumstances. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have been investigating the collision.
Weather conditions Monday included high overcast skies with 9 m.p.h. winds out of the southeast.
The cruise ship Royal Princess departed Vancouver for a seven-day cruise on Saturday and was due to arrive in Anchorage on May 18. Cindy Cicchetti, a passenger on the ship, told the AP the ship is not leaving as scheduled and there weren’t any details as to how the accident will affect the rest of the trip.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.