Federal investigators are due in Alaska on Tuesday to try to find out why two sightseeing planes collided in mid-air over open water during daylight hours, killing at least four tourists.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigators are expected to arrive in the southeast Alaska town of Kethikan, close to where Monday’s afternoon crash happened, an NTSB official said.
The two aircraft went down over water about 40 to 48 kilometres northeast of Ketchikan, according to coast guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios.
Ten other people were injured, he said.
All 14 passengers on both floatplanes were from the cruise ship Royal Princess, which was on a seven-day trip from Vancouver to Anchorage and operated by Princess Cruises, the Washington Post reported.
The crash site, at Coon Cove about 480 kilometres south of Alaska’s capital Juneau, lies near a tourist lodge that runs excursions to the nearby Misty Fjords National Monument.
One of the aircraft was a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver with five people aboard, and the other a de Havilland Otter DHC-3 carrying 11, Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Allen Kenitzer said.
The Ketchikan-based operator of the larger plane, Taquan Air, said its pilot and nine passengers were rescued and receiving medical attention, but one passenger’s fate was unknown. That group was returning from a flightseeing tour of Misty Fjords when the crash occurred, Taquan said.
Rios initially reported 10 survivors receiving medical care, with six other people from the two planes listed as unaccounted for. He later said four of the missing had been confirmed as dead.
Neither of the single-engine planes was under air traffic control when they collided, Kenitzer said.