According to the Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration, the emergency beacon on the plane was activated at 11:20 am when it crashed in the Misty Fjords National Monument area, near Ketchikan. Coast Guard crews found the wreckage at 2:40 p.m. after a helicopter company reported that they had seen it on a ridgeline. Two Coast Guard helicopters lowered rescue swimmers to the area and no survivors were reported, the agency stated.
The identities of the victims were not immediately available. Recovery efforts will be coordinated by the Alaska State Troopers as well as volunteers from Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad on Thursday and Friday.
Southeast Aviation LLC owned the plane that was involved in Thursday's crash.
"Our hearts are broken by the loss of six people today. The company released a statement saying that it was thinking about and grieving the families of the six passengers and the pilot who died. "We are cooperating to the first responders, agencies involved, including U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board, and Alaska State Troopers."
According to the company, five of the passengers were onboard the Holland America Line cruise ship Nieuw Amsterdam. After the plane crashed, the ship made a stop in Ketchikan and delayed its departure for Thursday afternoon. According to the company, it offered counseling services to crew and guests.
The statement stated that the float plane excursion was offered and sold by an independent operator, not Holland America Line.
These small plane flights to Misty Fjords National Monument are very popular. Visitors can view glacier valleys and snow-capped peaks, as well as lakes in the wilderness area.
Two sightseeing planes collided midair in 2019, killing six of the 16 passengers.
Southeast Aviation claims it offers sightseeing tours to Misty Fjords National Monument, bear-viewing sites and air charters to other communities within southeast Alaska.
Wadlow stated that the operator of the plane informed Coast Guard that five passengers and a pilot were aboard.
Wadlow didn't have any details about when the plane took flight. The weather conditions were cloudy at 900 feet (274.32 metres) with light rain and mist. The Coast Guard stated that visibility was 2.22 miles (3.22 kilometers), and winds were 8.87 mph (12.87 km/h).
The National Transportation Safety Board will send a team to investigate the accident. They are expected to arrive in Alaska Friday.
The FAA is also conducting an investigation.