At Least Five Killed After Two Small Tour Planes Collide in Midair

By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter

May 14, 2019

At least five people have been killed and 10 others hospitalized after two small floatplanes carrying cruise ship passengers collided in mid-air near Ketchikan, Alaska, the Coast Guard said on Monday. One person remains missing.

"Our crews are out there searching diligently alongside our partner agencies and some good Samaritans," Coast Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios told ABC News on "Good Morning America."

Floatplanes, which have pontoons mounted under the fuselage so they can land on water, are a popular way for tourists to view the Misty Fjords National Monument from the air. The fatal collision occurred when a de-Havilland DHC-2 Beaver with five people on board and a de-Havilland Otter DH-3 carrying 11 people crashed in mid-air "under unknown circumstances" the FAA said.

Ten people had to be taken to a local hospital with three of the patients listed in serious condition. The other seven have been listed in fair condition.

Both planes were carrying tourists from the Royal Princess cruise ship and collided about eight nautical miles away from Ketchikan, Alaska. The cruise ship has since departed the area and continued on its seven-day voyage.

Princess Cruises released a statement about the deaths on Tuesday:

"All of us at Princess Cruises are deeply saddened by this tragic news and we are extending our full support to the investigating authorities as well as the traveling companions of the guests involved," spokesman Brian O'Connor said in a statement Tuesday. "We immediately activated our Princess Care Team employees in the region and sent additional team members to Ketchikan overnight to assist the families impacted."

One of the planes was operated by Tanquan Air, which has suspended all scheduled flights.

"We are devastated by today's incident and our hearts go out to our passengers and their families," Taquan said in a statement. "At this time, we are in the midst of an active crisis response, and our focus is on assisting these passengers, the pilot, our staff, their families and loved ones, and first responders."

The Coast Guard, the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are all investigating the circumstances around the crash.

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