A sightseeing plane crashed in southeast Alaska Thursday, killing all nine people on board, according to the company that operates the tours.
The plane was carrying the pilot and eight travelers from a Holland America Line cruise ship who were on a sightseeing tour of the Misty Fjords.
“There are no survivors,” the plane’s operator, Promech Air, said in a statement.
It was not promptly clear what caused the crash, which happened around 12:20 PT, 20 miles upper east of Ketchikan, Alaska, as indicated by Holland America.
A helicopter spotted the wreckage of the plane, which had been reported missing, against the granite rock face of a cliff 800 feet above Ella Lake, however rain and wind prevented the recovery of the bodies from the crash site, which is located in rough terrain.
“The initial rescue crew that went in had a very tough time because of the terrain,” Clint Johnson, head of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska office, told the Associated Press.
“It’s a very steep, mountainous area, and weather conditions caused them to stand down,” he said.
Another endeavor to achieve the accident site will be made Friday.
Johnson said it was too early to determine what caused the plane — a DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter turboprop — to crash, or if it flew into the cliff.
The NTSB is sending its Alaska “go-team” to investigate the crash, the agency said in a tweet. The team will include three members from Alaska and at least two people from Washington, D.C., according to the AP.
NTSB is sending a go-team from its Alaska Regional office to investigate a sightseeing plane that crashed near Ketchikan, Alaska.
— NTSB (@NTSB) June 26, 2015
“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,” Marcus Sessoms, president of Promech Air, said in 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.” The passengers were on a seven-day cruise aboard the Westerdam cruise ship, which left Alaska on June 20, Holland America said. “We are incredibly distressed by this situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with those onboard the plane and their families,” the cruise line said in a statement. “Holland America Line is extending its full support to traveling companions of the guests involved.” The names of the victims are being withheld until their families have been notified.
— Alaska Dispatch News (@adndotcom) June 26, 2015