The Slatest

At Least Four Dead After Two Sightseeing Planes Collide Midair in Alaska

A crashed plane in a forest.
A sightseeing plane that crashed in southeast Alaska is seen in this undated picture from the National Transportation Safety Board released June 28, 2015. Reuters/NTSB/Handout

A midair collision between two sightseeing planes carrying cruise ship tourists in Alaska on Monday has resulted in at least four deaths, according to the Associated Press. It’s not yet clear what led to the accident.

The two planes, carrying in total 16 people, including pilots, collided Monday afternoon near the southeast Alaska town of Ketchikan. According to the Coast Guard, two passengers are still missing.

Both planes were carrying passengers from the cruise ship Royal Princess, which was on a seven-day trip from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Anchorage, Alaska. According to the Washington Post, one of the planes, a seaplane operated by Taquan Air, was carrying 10 cruise ship passengers back from a tour of the Misty Fjords National Monument. The second floatplane, operated by an “independent tour,” carried four passengers.

There are some discrepancies in the initial reports about fatalities. Princess Cruises stated that there were five people dead, all from the independently operated tour plane. The Coast Guard has put the figure at four, with one death from the Taquan Air plane and three from the independent plane.

Ten people were rescued, and several are being treated for injuries. According to KOMO News, three people, including one in serious condition, are being treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. According to USA Today, others were being treated in Ketchikan. One person was in critical condition and three in serious condition, though it’s not clear if any of those patients were transferred to the Washington hospital.

Taquan Air has said it is suspending flights while the authorities investigate. The cruise ship has also been grounded, according to the AP.

The Federal Aviation Administration has said the planes collided under “unknown circumstances.” Federal accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are headed to Alaska to investigate the cause of the crash.