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6 dead after sightseeing plane in Alaska crashes

The pilot and five passengers from a cruise ship were aboard the float plane that crashed near Ketchikan on Thursday.

Six people died after a sightseeing floatplane carrying cruise ship passengers crashed in southeast Alaska on Thursday, authorities said.

Everyone on board the de Havilland Beaver was killed in the crash in the Misty Fjords area, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

An emergency beacon was activated around 11:20 a.m., and a search helicopter found the wreckage on a ridgeline at 2:37 p.m.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims and with our guests and team members who are affected by this tragedy," cruise line Holland America said in a statement.

The plane was owned by Southeast Aviation, a private company, and the excursion was not sold by Holland America cruise line, the cruise company said.

The passengers were from the Nieuw Amsterdam, which is near the end of a seven-day cruise that left Seattle on Saturday, the company said.

The deceased were not immediately identified.

The Alaska State Troopers said in a dispatch that the crash scene was in a "steep mountainous area" and that poor visibility and deteriorating weather had at times hampered aerial search efforts. Efforts were being coordinated to recover the bodies, it said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to investigate the crash.

Southeast Aviation did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Its website says it is based in Ketchikan and among the tours it offers is to the Misty Fjords.

Ketchikan and the Misty Fjords National Monument are in the far southeastern part of Alaska on the panhandle.

The Covid-19 pandemic largely shut down cruise operations, but in May Holland America announced it would resume cruises to Alaska.

It did so thanks in part to a federal law signed in May that temporarily allows foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail directly to the state rather than being required to stop in Canada.

After the law passed, Norwegian Cruise Line also announced plans to resume trips out of Seattle in August.