Four dead, two missing in Alaska floatplanes collision

The floatplanes were carrying passengers from Royal Princess The floatplanes were carrying passengers from Royal Princess

Four people died and two are missing following the midair collision of two sightseeing floatplanes carrying Royal Princess passengers near Ketchikan, Alaska, on Monday.

Taquan Air and an independent operator

One aircraft, operated by Taquan Air, was flying a shore excursion sold through Princess Cruises. The flight was returning from a Misty Fjords tour carrying 10 people from Royal Princess and a pilot. The second floatplane involved was operating an independent tour carrying four additional passengers from Royal Princess, along with a pilot.

The US Coast Guard and local search and rescue teams have confirmed that nine of 10 American passengers on the Taquan Air plane were rescued and are receiving medical attention. Overnight, the Coast Guard reported recovering the last person from the Taquan aircraft and was taking action to notify the family.

Authorities have confirmed there were three fatalities from the independent air tour, two guests and the pilot, who were Americans. Rescue efforts continue for the other two guests, one Australian and one Canadian.

The aircrafts involved were a Beaver floatplane and an Otter floatplane.

Royal Princess is sailing a 'Voyage of the Glaciers' cruise that departed Vancouver, BC, on May 11 and is scheduled to arrive in Anchorage on May 18. Royal Princess departed Ketchikan approximately 3.5 hours late and was scheduled to arrive in Juneau at approximately 9 a.m. local time Tuesday.

The search effort

USCG is searching with the cutter Bailey Barco, an Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and two Station Ketchikan 45-foot Response Boat-Mediums.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau is actively coordinating the search with the US Forest Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Ketchikan Fire Department, Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, Alaska State Troopers and TEMSCO Aviation.

'In a remote area such as this, given our limited resources, we rely on our partner agencies and appreciate the support that good Samaritans have rendered to this point,' said Capt. Stephen White, Coast Guard Sector Juneau commander. 'With the loss of life in this case, we know that the impact to Alaska is immense and our thoughts are with the community here.'

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the incident.

Posted 14 May 2019

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review