ALASKA – Five people are dead, one person is missing, and 10 others are in hospital after two floatplanes collided and went down in the water near Ketchikan, Alaska, according to Princess Cruises.
The cruise line confirms to CityNews Vancouver both planes were carrying guests from Royal Princess, which is currently sailing a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise after departing Vancouver on Saturday, May 11th for Anchorage.
One of the floatplanes, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver on an independent tour, had four guests on board, plus a pilot, all whom have died.
The second plane, a single-engine de Havilland Otter DHC-3, was on a Misty Fjords shore excursion sold through Princess Cruises and operated by Taquan Air. Ten cruise ship guests were on board, plus the pilot. Nine of the guests, as well as the pilot, have been taken to hospital with one of them in critical condition. One of the guests remains missing.
— CityNews Vancouver (@CityNewsVAN) May 14, 2019
The planes collided at 1:08 pm Monday. It’s not yet clear what caused the planes to crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched investigators to the crash site and the FAA is also probing the collision. The Coast Guard has only confirmed four deaths so far.
In a statement, Princess Cruises says it’s activated members of its Care Team to provide assistance to the families impacted.
“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,” says a statement. “Princess Cruises is extending its full support to traveling companions of the guests involved.”
Cindy Cicchetti, a passenger on the Royal Princess cruise ship told the Associated Press that the ship captain announced that two planes were in an accident. She said 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 ship was scheduled to arrive in Anchorage on Saturday, May 18.
Taquan Air has suspended all scheduled flights and says it’s cooperating with the investigation.
“We are devastated by this news and our hearts go out to our passengers and their families,” says a statement from the company. “At this time, we are in the midst of an active crisis response, and our focus is on assisting these passengers, the pilot, our staff, their families and loved ones, and first responders.”
Weather conditions in the area on Monday included high overcast skies with 14 km/hour southeast winds.
– With files from the Associated Press