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Sightseeing plane carrying 9 crashes on Alaska cliff

26 June 2015, 09:17

Anchorage - A sightseeing float plane carrying eight cruise ship passengers and a pilot crashed against the granite rock face of a southeast Alaska cliff on Thursday, and rescuers were trying to reach the site 1.2km above a lake to determine if there were survivors.

The DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter turboprop crashed under unknown circumstances above Ella Lake near Ketchikan, Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Ian Gregor said in an email to The Associated Press.

The conditions of those on board weren't immediately known, Alaska State Troopers said.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Lauren Steenson said the agency received a report around 14:15 that the plane was overdue. Troopers said an emergency locator transmitter activated in the Misty Fjords National Monument, and a helicopter pilot spotted the downed aircraft above Ella Lake, about 1 287km southeast of Anchorage.

Promech Air, an airline based in Ketchikan, operated the shore excursion sold through Holland America Line, the cruise ship company said in a statement. The eight passengers are guests on the Westerdam, which is on a seven-day cruise that departed Seattle on Saturday.

Thoughts and prayers

"We are incredibly distressed by this situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with those on board the plane and their families," the statement said. "Holland America Line is extending its full support to travelling companions of the guests involved."

The Ketchikan Daily News reports the Westerdam had been scheduled to leave the city about 32km from the crash site at 13:00, but it remained in port on Thursday evening.

Promech Air didn't have an immediate comment beyond confirming that the downed plane belonged to the company.

The airline's website advertises tours of the 2 million acre Misty Fjord National Monument in its float planes.

"Towering granite cliffs, 1 000ft waterfalls, lush and remote valleys and serene crystalline lakes make up this incredible landscape," it says.

- AP


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