At least three people were killed and 10 injured after an apparent midair collision involving two sightseeing floatplanes transporting 16 people near Ketchikan.
The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies were still searching for three passengers at 6:30 p.m. Monday around George Inlet where the crashes occurred. Names of the deceased were not released while authorities notify the next of kin.
The United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Ketchikan Fire Department and Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, Alaska State Troopers and Temsco Aviation were assisting with the search for the unaccounted for passengers.
“With something like this, it’s an all hands on deck situation,” said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Matthew Schofield.
The crash involved a de Havilland Otter and a de Havilland Beaver and occurred after 1 p.m.
One of the planes was operated by Taquan Air and was flying a shore excursion sold through Princess Cruises, according to a press release from the cruise line. The flight was returning from a Misty Fjords tour and carried 10 guests from Royal Princess and a pilot.
The second plane involved was carrying four guests from Royal Princess on an independent tour, according to the release.
Schofield said a total of 16 people were aboard the planes.
Taquan Air suspended all scheduled flights and is cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and other authorities to examine every aspect of the crash, according to a release from Taquan Air.
By 2 p.m., people had started to arrive at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center, said Mischa Chernick, marketing and communications manager, PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.
A total of 10 patients were admitted to the hospital. A hospital spokesperson said they were taken to the hospital via ambulance after being transported by helicopter and boat.
As of Monday evening, three were in serious condition and seven were in fair condition.
Chernick told the Empire there was no indication whether the patients came from one plane or both planes, but Petty Officer John-Paul Rios said early reports indicated the people killed were passengers aboard the smaller plane.
The cause of the collision is not yet determined, Schofield and Rios said. The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating.
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.