Plane Carrying Cruise Passengers Crashes in Alaska, 9 Dead

Rescuers discovered the Promech Air plane hours after it went missing.

June 26, 2015, 4:37 AM

— -- A plane carrying nine people, including several from a cruise ship, crashed on the side of a mountain in Alaska Thursday, killing everyone on board, officials said.

Rescuers discovered the wreck of the Promech Air float plane hours after it went missing Thursday afternoon about 300 miles south of Juneau.

Aboard the plane were eight passengers on the MS Westerdam, a sightseeing ship visiting Ketchikan, according to Holland America Lines, which was operating the cruise. There was also a pilot aboard the plane, a DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter, the AP said.

The identities of the victims have not been released, and the National Transportation Safety Board is sending a go-team to investigate the crash.

The plane had been on a shoreline excursion when it crashed about 20 miles northeast of Ketchikan, near Ella Lake, the lines said. According to the AP, the plane was discovered on the face of a granite cliff about 800 feet above the lake.

"We are incredibly distressed by this situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with those on board the plane and their families," Holland America officials wrote in a statement. "Holland America Line is extending its full support to traveling companions of the guests involved."

The ship was on a 7-day cruise Inside Passage that left from Seattle on June 20, the cruise line said.

Marcus Sessoms, president of Promech Air, expressed his sympathy in a statement.

“There is nothing I can say that can alleviate the pain and overwhelming sense of loss that we and the loved ones of those affected are feeling,” Sessoms said in the statement. “At this moment, all of us share the pain and anguish of this terrible event. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to everyone touched by this tragedy.”

Promech Air advertises tours of the "Magnificent Misty Fjords by Floatplane" on its website.

"Whether you are visiting Ketchikan by cruise ship, vacationing in Ketchikan, touching base with friends and family nearby or just looking for a day trip out of Ketchikan while on business, this tour is a great way to see this unique corner of Alaska on an easy afternoon or morning excursion," the site says.

"Misty Fjords National Monument spans more than two million acres. Towering granite cliffs, 1,000-foot waterfalls, lush and remote valleys and serene crystalline lakes make up this incredible landscape."

In 2013, a plane operated by the company crashed near Thorne Bay, in the same area, according to the Alaska Dispatch News.

Four people were injured.

According to an NTSB probable cause report of the July 24 incident, the pilot experienced partial engine failure and tried to land in a lake. But the engine totally failed, according to the document, leaving the plane to smash into trees.

"The airplane descended into an area of tress before reaching the lake, which resulted in substantial damage to the wings, fuselage, and empennage," the report said.

The report cited engine failure as the cause.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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