Pilot and 5 Cruise Guests Die After Sightseeing Plane Crashes in Alaska: 'Hearts Are Shattered'

The small aircraft crashed just before 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard

Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad personnel land and disembark from a Hughes 369D helicopter on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, at Temsco Helicopters Inc in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Photo: Dustin Safranek/Ketchikan Daily News via AP

Six people died in a plane crash in southeast Alaska, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The pilot and five passengers were sightseeing on Thursday when the aircraft went down by the Misty Fjords National Monument near Ketchikan, the Associated Press reported, citing officials.

Southeast Aviation LLC. — which the Coast Guard identified as the plane's owner— addressed the tragedy in a statement.

"Our hearts are shattered at the loss of six people today. We are thinking of and grieving with the families of the five passengers and our dear friend and pilot aboard the aircraft," the company said, according to the AP. "We are cooperating with the first responders and agencies involved, including the U.S. Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board and Alaska State Troopers."

The plane's emergency alert beacon was activated around 11:20 a.m. when the crash occurred, and Coast Guard crew members discovered the wreckage around 2:37 p.m., officials said.

The Coast Guard said they sent a helicopter with two rescue swimmers to the site, but no survivors were found. The victims have not yet been identified.

The Holland America Line cruise ship Nieuw Amsterdam is docked on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, at Berth 4 in Ketchikan, Alaska. Holland America confirmed Thursday that five passengers from the Nieuw Amsterdam were aboard a float plane that crashed Thursday morning during a tour of the Misty Fjords National Monument.
Dustin Safranek/Ketchikan Daily News via AP

The five passengers were traveling on the Holland America Line cruise ship Nieuw Amsterdam before its stop in Ketchikan, the company said. According to USA Today, the ship's afternoon departure was delayed in wake of the disaster, and counseling services have been provided to guests and crew members impacted by the loss.

"We can confirm that a float plane carrying five guests from Nieuw Amsterdam was involved in an accident in Ketchikan, and there are no survivors," Holland America Line said in a statement on Twitter. "It was an independent tour not sold by Holland America Line. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims."

Similar aircraft accidents have occurred in the Ketchikan area over the last few years. In 2015, nine people died after a floatplane slammed into a cliff, the Washington Post reported. In May 2019, six people were killed after two floatplanes planes collided midair, USA Today reported. Both incidents involved cruise ship passengers.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating Thursday's incident.

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