ANCHORAGE — Dive teams plunged into the icy cold waters of a southeast Alaska inlet Tuesday, searching an area the size of 24 football fields for two cruise ship passengers missing after two sightseeing planes collided.
The Coast Guard has confirmed four fatalities in the collision Monday afternoon near Ketchikan, a popular destination for cruise ships in Alaska. Ten people, all Americans, were injured. The missing passengers were from Canada and Australia, Princess Cruises said.
The Royal Princess, which can carry up to 3,600 people, was among four city-sized cruise ships in the tiny coastal community on Monday.
During port stops, visitors can shop in tourist stores or take part in several excursions, such as visiting an Alaska Native village, touring the backcountry, or visiting a raptor center.
Another popular trip is flightseeing in Misty Fjords National Monument. Visitors marvel at the lakes, snowcapped peaks, and glacier valleys in the wilderness area. Trips cost about $260 each.
The larger plane, a de Havilland Otter DHC-3 with 10 passengers and the pilot, was returning from Misty Fjord when it collided with another sightseeing plane, carrying four passengers from the same cruise ship and a pilot.
The cause of the crash in relatively good weather was not known. The crash occurred about eight miles from Ketchikan, near George Inlet. The planes came down about a mile and a half apart with some of the debris field on land. Their altitude wasn’t immediately known.
The smaller plane, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, was partially submerged in the shore of George Inlet after the single-engine plane overturned and hit some trees before crashing, according to Coast Guard Lieutenant Brian Dykens. The larger Otter landed in water and sank, he said.