6 confirmed dead after Alaska floatplanes collide

US coast guard response boats drift through George Inlet as part of the search effort on Tuesday near Ketchikan, where teh collision occurred. (AP pic)

WASHINGTON: Six people are confirmed dead after two floatplanes carrying cruise ship passengers collided mid-air in Alaska, the US Coast Guard said on Wednesday.

Volunteer rescuers wrapped up their search on Tuesday night once the remains of the last victim were spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter, the agency said in a statement.

“In total 10 people were rescued and six people were found deceased,” it said.

The dead included four Americans, one Australian and a Canadian, Princess Cruises said Wednesday.

The two planes carried a total of 14 passengers from the Royal Princess ship when the collision occurred Monday near Ketchikan, a popular tourist spot on southern Alaskan cruise routes surrounded by fjords and dense forests.

One aircraft operated by Taquan Air – whose pilot survived – was flying a shore excursion sold through the cruise line.

The other, operated by Mountain Air, carried guests from the ship but was an independent company whose tour was not sold through Princess, the cruise line said.

National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy said both aircraft were inbound to Ketchikan when the collision occurred at about 12.21 pm.

“The two planes converged between 3,200 and 3,300 feet on the west side of the George Inlet,” she said, citing preliminary information as the investigation begins.

Royal Princess departed from Vancouver on May 11 for the seven-day voyage.