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

A sightseeing plane crashed Thursday in southeast Alaska, killing all six people on board, including theplane’s pilot, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

“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 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. It crashed northeast of Ketchikan, the FAA said.

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 float plane excursion was offered by an independent tour operator and not sold by Holland America Line,” the statement said.

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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Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Wildlife Troopers and theCoast Guard were conducting a search and rescue operation on Thursday just outside of Ketchikan in the Misty Fjords area, according to Austin McDaniel, public information officer for the Alaska Department of Public Safety.

The Coast Guard responded Thursday morning to an emergency alert from a sightseeing plane in the area around southeast Alaska’s Misty Fjords National Monument, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow told the Associated Press.

The location of the emergency beacon put it in the Misty Fjords area, northeast of Ketchikan, he said.

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

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

USA TODAY has reached out to Southeast Aviation LLC.

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 Coast Guard was told by the plane’s operator that five passengers and a pilot were on board, Wadlow said. Wadlow did not have details on when the plane took off.

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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