UPDATE:  Three people were killed after two sightseeing airplanes carrying cruise ship tourists collided in midair Monday near a southeast Alaska town, the Coast Guard said.

Three others are missing after the collision about 10 miles (16 kilometres) from Ketchikan, Coast Guard Lt. Brian Dykens said.

The Coast Guard had a cutter onsite and planned to work overnight to find the missing.

The National Transportation Board was sending an elite investigative team from Washington, D.C., to investigate the crash, another deadly mishap for cruise ship passengers taking side excursions off cruise ships in Ketchikan.

The planes collided under unknown circumstances, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said in an email to The Associated Press.

Eleven passengers were on a de Havilland Otter DHC-3. Ten of those passengers were taken to a Ketchikan hospital.

One patient was listed in critical condition but has since been upgraded, and the others were in fair or good condition, according to Mischa Chernick, a spokeswoman for PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.

Five people were aboard the other plane, a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver.

Ketchikan is approximately 140 kilometres northwest of Prince Rupert, B.C., as the crow flies.

A passenger on the Royal Princess cruise ship told the AP that 14 people on the downed floatplanes were cruise passengers.

Cindy Cicchetti said the ship captain announced that two planes were in an accident Monday.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Weather conditions in the area on Monday included high overcast skies with 14 kilometres per hour southeast winds.

CBC/Associated Press 

 

Ben O'Hara