Alaska plane crash: 6 dead, 10 injured after air collision

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The National Transportation Safety Board announced shortly after the arrival of an elite team from Washington, D.C. to investigate the accident, that two sightseeing planes had crashed in Alaska and collided at an altitude of 3,300 feet (1,006 meters).

The Coast Guard said the two planes collided in the air, killing six people.

The larger aircraft, the de Havilland Otter DHC-3 with 10 passengers and the pilot, landed from 3,800 feet (1,158 meters) and collided with the smaller de Havilland Otter DHC-3 carrying four passengers from the same cruise ship, the Princess Royal and the pilot.

NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said a federal investigation into the cause of the crash could take months, but a preliminary report is expected within two weeks.

Coast Guard Lieutenant Brian Dickens said Tuesday evening that his agency and the volunteer rescue squad, Ketchikan, have found two bodies near the crash site of the smaller plane involved in the collision, the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver single-engine vehicle.

The two planes fell about a mile and a half, with some debris on the ground, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from Ketchikan, near George Inlet.

The Beaver plane, which is smaller in size, appears to have crashed in the air, according to Jerry Kiefer, the work accident commander of the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad. He said the plane’s tail and fuselage were 900 feet (275 meters) from the buoys of the plane that landed near the shore.

The smaller plane was partially submerged in George Inlet’s beach after the single-engine plane capsized and hit some trees before crashing, according to Coast Guard Lt. Brian Dickens. He said that the larger otter fell into the water and sank.

Princess Cruises said in a statement that one of the passengers on the larger plane died, as were two passengers and the pilot on the smaller plane.

Canadian officials said one of its citizens was among the dead. Global Affairs Canada expressed condolences but did not identify the person for privacy reasons.

The larger aircraft was operated by Taquan Air of Ketchikan and passengers booked flights via the cruise ship as a flight. Princess Cruises said the other plane was operated by Mountain Air Service in Ketchikan, and the four booked an independent flight of the cruise ship.

After the accident, the 10 injured were initially taken to a hospital in Ketchikan. A spokeswoman, Susan Gregg, said four patients with broken bones were later transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Three survivors have been released from PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center in Ketchikan. Hospital spokeswoman Marty West said the other three were in reasonable condition.

The Royal Princess left Vancouver, British Columbia, and was scheduled to arrive in Anchorage.

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