5 tourists, pilot dead in Alaska sightseeing plane crash

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 06 2021 02:03 PM | Updated as of Aug 06 2021 02:04 PM

WASHINGTON - All 6 people on board a sightseeing plane were killed Thursday when the craft crashed in southeast Alaska, the United States coast guard said.

Rescue services in the northernmost US state responded to an emergency beacon around 11:20 am (1920 GMT) 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Ketchikan, Alaska, the coast guard said in a statement.

"An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Sitka located the wreckage at 2:37 pm and lowered 2 rescue swimmers who reported no survivors," it added.

A helicopter had reported sighting wreckage on a ridgeline, the coast guard said.

The de Havilland Beaver floatplane -- an aircraft that can be supported by floats on water -- was carrying 5 passengers and the pilot and had departed from the Misty Fjords National Monument park.

The passengers were tourists on the Holland America Line cruise ship Nieuw Amsterdam, the company said on Twitter.

"We can confirm that a floatplane carrying 5 guests from Nieuw Amsterdam was involved in an accident in Ketchikan, and there are no survivors," it wrote.

"It was an independent tour not sold by Holland America Line. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims."

 

Multiple tour companies offer rides through the fjords around Ketchikan, which are surrounded by lush forests and nearly vertical rock faces.

Many of the tours include a water landing in a floatplane and the area has seen multiple crashes in recent years.

In May 2019, 6 people died after 2 floatplanes collided mid-air while carrying passengers from a cruise ship's sightseeing expedition.

In 2015, an Otter plane crashed into a granite rock face, killing all 9 on board, near a lake in the Misty Fjords area.

And in 2007, 5 people were killed when a Beaver floatplane carrying tourists crashed in the same area.

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