KETCHIKAN, Alaska (KTUU) - 5/14 Update:
More details released Tuesday morning shed light on the current status of the two downed float planes which crashed mid-air near Ketchikan, killing several and injuring others.
According to the US Coast Guard, which issued another statement early Tuesday morning, four people have died, and two are missing. "Ten people were rescued and are receiving medical care, the extent of their injuries are unknown. Four people are confirmed deceased," U.S. Coast Guard stated.
On Monday, Princess Cruises' spokesperson Alivia Owyoung told Channel 2 that five people had died, but on Tuesday, deferred to authorities, stating in a release, "Authorities have confirmed there were three fatalities from the independent air tour recovered overnight, two guests and the pilot who were Americans. Rescue efforts continue for the other two guests, one Australian and one Canadian."
Several of those injured have been transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment of their injuries. According to Susan Gregg, hospital spokesperson, their injuries range from fractures to ribs, pelvis, arm and spine.
A 67-year-old man is serious in intensive care (transferred by Airlift Northwest); and a 63-year-old woman, 61-year-old woman, and a 61-year-old man are all reportedly in satisfactory condition there, Gregg said.
In total, 16 people were aboard the two planes. Two of those people are still missing, and the USCG said they are continuing the search to find them.
"We're saturating that area with as many Coast Guard resources as we have in that area," said Lt. Brian Dykens with the U.S. Coast Guard. "Given its remote location, you know, we rely on so many parts, even Good Samaritans, to help find people that are missing."
The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates aviation crashes and what caused them, is dispatching investigators to the crash area as well.
"NTSB is launching a go team to investigate what appears to be a mid-air collision of two aircraft near Ketchikan, Alaska," said Jennifer Homendy, spokesperson for NTSB.
Several people are reported dead and two people are still missing after a collision between two float planes with 16 combined people onboard, according to a cruise line whose passengers are among those killed. The Coast Guard had said Monday evening that it had not yet confirmed more than three fatalities, but said in an update around 10 p.m. that four people are dead.
Princess Cruises confirmed that both planes carried passengers from two Princess cruise ships, and said that five people had died.
A deHavilland Beaver, which Princess called an "independent" air tour, had five people onboard. Four were Royal Princess cruise passengers, and one was the pilot. Princess said in a statement that all five fatalities were on that flight. The Coast Guard told NBC at 7:30 p.m. Alaska Time that its latest report only had confirmation of three fatalities.
The other plane, an Otter, was flown by local flightseeing operator Taquan Air. Ten passengers from the excursion sold through Princess, and a pilot, were onboard that plane. The plane was returning from a trip to the Misty Fjords National Monument.
Princess says nine guests from the Taquan Air plane have been rescued, and one's status is unknown.
Taquan Air says it has suspended all scheduled flights.
Princess Cruises says the Royal Princess is in the middle of a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise, which departed Vancouver on May 11, and is scheduled to arrive in Anchorage on Saturday.
The U.S. Coast Guard, partner agencies and volunteers are currently looking for three missing people following reports of two floatplanes colliding around George Inlet near Ketchikan, Alaska.
The Federal Aviation Administration's Allen Kenitzer says the two planes collided mid-air. The circumstances are unknown. Kenitzer says local authorities say five people were onboard a deHavilland DHC-2 Beaver, and 11 were onboard a de Havilland Otter.
At first report, 10 people were accounted for, according to the Coast Guard. A Ketchikan Fire Department representative said around 3:30 p.m. Monday that more people had been found, but could not specify how many or what condition they are in.
Ten people are confirmed to have been hospitalized, officials at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center said. One is in critical condition, meaning life-threatening injuries paired with vital signs that are extremely unstable and not within normal limits. Three people are in serious condition, while six others are in fair condition, said Mischa Chernick, a hospital official.
As for the rescue operations, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios said the USCG is currently unaware of the circumstances surrounding why the aircraft went down, but that crews are working as quickly as possible to locate the missing passengers.
"A case like this, we will search as long as we can," he said.
Plane crashes are not uncommon in Alaska. However, Rios said that in his three years working here, this is a unique situation: The group has not recently seen two planes go down in the same area around the same time.
It is unknown if there is a connection between the two aircraft or if it's coincidental that they went down at the same time, near the same place. The Coast Guard could not state whether the crash was a mid-air collision or not.
Coast Guard Sector Juneau Command Center watchstanders launched a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and two 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crews Monday from Coast Guard Station Ketchikan in response to the incident.
Multiple posts on Facebook indicated that at least one of the floatplanes was a part of a guided tour, in which several cruise ship passengers were participating.
This is a developing story. Please check back for details.
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