26 Jun 2015

Nine killed in scenic flight crash in Alaska

8:14 pm on 26 June 2015

A plane has crashed while on a cruise ship excursion flight in Alaska, killing all nine people on board.

An aerial view of the Gokachin Lakes in the Misty Fjords - near Ella Lake.

An aerial view of the Gokachin Lakes in the Misty Fjords - near Ella Lake. Photo: Gerry Ellis / Minden Pictures / Biosphoto

Flight operator Promech Air said eight passengers and the pilot were killed when the plane went down during a tour of the Misty Fjords of southeast Alaska.

The victims have not been identified as some families have not yet been contacted.

Promech Air president Marcus Sessoms said there was nothing he could say that could "alleviate the pain and overwhelming sense of loss".

Cruise operator Holland America Line said the small single-engine float plane crashed near Ella Lake, about 30 km northeast of the town of Ketchikan,

Conditions at the nearby Ketchikan International Airport were overcast and rainy around the time of the crash, the US National Weather Service said.

Ketchikan is a popular summertime cruise destination about 370 km south of state capital Juneau.

A helicopter pilot spotted the downed plane against a granite rock face about 240 metres above Ella Lake in the Misty Fjords, according to a state trooper report.

Due to bad weather, efforts to retrieve the bodies were expected to begin tomorrow.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to investigate. The aircraft was a DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter, one of five operated by Promech Air.

The excursion flight was sold through Holland America Line, a unit of Carnival Corp.

The eight passengers had been on the cruise ship Westerdam, which left Seattle on Saturday for a seven-day round trip, the cruise line said in a statement.

- Reuters