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‘Confirmed deceased’: Australian among four killed in Alaska seaplane crash – Sydney Morning Herald

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A seaplane operated by Taquan Air, carrying 10 passengers and the pilot, was returning from Misty Fjord when it collided with a smaller seaplane, run by Mountain Air Service of Ketchikan, which was carrying four passengers and a pilot.

Ketchikan-based operator Taquan Air said in a statement “the Taquan family is devastated by yesterday’s events” and it was in the midst of an active crisis response.

“We are grieving the loss of life suffered in this tragic incident and our hearts go out to the passengers, pilots and families of both flights,” they said.

Ten people have been rescued and are receiving medical care, while four were confirmed dead and two people are missing.

The nationalities of the people from both planes are 14 Americans, a Canadian and an Australian.

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Canadian officials confirmed on Tuesday a Canadian citizen was among those dead.

All of the planes’ passengers arrived in Ketchikan on the Royal Princess cruise ship, operated by Princess Cruises, which left Vancouver on May 11 and was scheduled to arrive in Anchorage on Saturday.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic plane accident in Ketchikan yesterday, and are offering our full support to the investigating authorities as well as the travelling companions of guests involved,” Princess Cruises said in a statement.

“We immediately activated our Princess Care Team in the region and will provide updates as we know more.”

The Royal Princess, which can carry up to 3600 people, makes port stops where visitors take part in several day excursions.

Search for missing passengers continues

Dive teams are searching for the missing pair in the icy cold waters of a south-east Alaska inlet on Tuesday.

The water temperature off Ketchikan on Tuesday was 8.8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Expected survival time in four to 10-degree water is one to three hours, according to the United States Search & Rescue Task Force website.

“At this point there is a variety of factors that go into survivability,” Coast Guard chief petty officer Matthew Schofield said. “But the reality is that Alaskan waters are very cold.”

Dive teams plunged into the icy cold waters, searching an area the size of 24 football fields. The search involved a Coast Guard helicopter, a flotilla of boats and teams from the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ketchikan Fire Department and other rescue units, Schofield said.

The effort will continue “until we have exhausted all chance of finding anybody,” he said.

Cause unknown

The cause of the crash in relatively good weather, with high overcast skies with light southeast winds, was not known.

The planes came down about a mile and a half apart with some of the debris field on land. Their altitude wasn’t immediately known.

The smaller plane, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, was partially submerged in the shore of George Inlet after the single-engine plane overturned and hit some trees before crashing, according to Coast Guard Lieutenant Brian Dykens.

The larger Otter landed in water and sank, he said.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were due to arrive later Tuesday.

Last summer, all 11 on board another Taquan Air flight survived when the 72-year-old pilot confused snow on a mountain with a body of water and crashed on a rocky mountainside on Prince of Wales Island near the southern tip of the Alaska Peninsula.

With Reuters, AP with Sydney Morning Herald’s Natassia Chrysanthos

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