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6 dead after crash between float planes in Alaska, Coast Guard says

KETCHIKAN, Alaska — A mid-air collision between two float planes Monday afternoon near Ketchikan, Alaska, has left six people dead and 10 injured, according to authorities.

On Tuesday evening, the Coast Guard said two more bodies were recovered, bringing the death toll to six.

Coast Guard Lt. Brian Dykens said his agency and the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad found the bodies near the crash site of the smaller plane involved in the collision, a single-engine de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver

The planes were carrying tourists from a Princess Cruises ship, the Royal Princess, which was in Seattle a week ago, on sightseeing flights near George Inlet when the crash happened just after 1 p.m. local time.

BREAKING: Statement from @PrincessCruises on #Alaska float plane crash. Royal Princess departed from #Vancouver on Saturday. More @CityNewsVAN 6 & 11pm

Three of five passengers aboard a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane died in the crash, the Associated Press reported. A fourth victim's body was recovered during a Monday night search, but it is unclear which plane the person was on, a Coast Guard spokesman told the AP.

The other plane, a de Havilland Otter DHC-3 owned by Taquan Air, was carrying 11 people. It went down returning from Misty Fjords National Monument.

People on that plane were first taken to Peace Health's Ketchikan Medical Center, according to USA Today.

KIRO 7 found out that four people were later airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle because it is the closest level one trauma center to Ketchikan.

Two of the patients, a 61-year-old woman in satisfactory condition and a 67-year-old man in serious condition, are among those at Harborview.

No word was given on how the fourth victim airlifted to Harborview was doing.

Taquan Air officials released a statement that said they were incredibly distressed by the situation and sent thoughts and prayers to those on board the planes and their families. Officials with the company said it had suspended operations while authorities investigate.

Royal Princess passenger Jim Ryan told KIRO 7 by phone, “Everyone’s mood is we’re concerned about the families that’ve been involved. It’s almost a macabre-type setting; we’re looking forward to the rest of the trip, but it's with trepidation that, you know, we proceed.”

Ryan also said the ship's captain requested prayers for the families involved, and for those not involved, to notify their families that they were alright.

“We are deeply saddened to report this news and our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives and the families of those impacted by today’s accident," Princess Cruises officials said in a statement. “Princess Cruises is extending its full support to traveling companions of the guests involved."

The cruise ship passengers were on is in the middle of a seven-day trip that left Vancouver on Saturday and is heading for Anchorage.

On Thursday, the NTSB said the two planes have been recovered and moved to a secure site in Ketchikan.

It's not the first time a major plane crash has occurred near Ketchikan, a popular tourist destination.

In June 2015, a pilot and eight passengers died when a de Havilland DHC-3 Otter operated by Promech Air Inc. crashed into mountainous terrain about 24 miles (39 kilometers) from Ketchikan. The NTSB later determined that pilot error and lack of a formal safety program were behind the crash.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report

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