UPDATE: May 15 — The U.S. Coast Guard said on Tuesday that it had recovered two more bodies following the midair crash involving two Alaska floatplanes. The death toll from the accident has risen to six.
Federal investigators said earlier in the day that the larger of the two planes had descended in altitude when it collided with the other aircraft near the Alaskan community of Ketchikan.
The larger plane, a single-engine de Havilland Otter DHC-3, was traveling at an altitude of about 3,800 feet before it descended to 3,200 to 3,300 feet, a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson told The Associated Press.
The other plane, a de Havilland Beaver DHC-2, had been flying at that lower altitude.
At least five people were killed and several others hospitalized after two floatplanes carrying cruise passengers collided in midair near the Alaskan town of Ketchikan on Monday.
Princess Cruises confirmed to NBC News that four cruise passengers and one pilot had been killed in the accident. At least 10 people sustained injuries in the crash, four of whom were reported to be in critical or serious condition. The cruise company said one passenger had not been accounted for.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the two aircraft ― one a Beaver type and the other an Otter type floatplane — collided under unknown circumstances, USA Today reported.
All five people aboard the Beaver plane were killed, the outlet said.
Princess Cruises told NBC that the planes had been carrying cruisegoers on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of Vancouver, Canada. The passengers had been taking a so-called flightseeing tour when the accident occurred at around 1 p.m. local time.
“We are incredibly distressed by this situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with those onboard the planes and their families,” the cruise company said in a statement. “Princess Cruises is extending its full support to traveling companions of the guests involved.”