9 killed when sightseeing flight crashes in Alaska

Nine people were killed when a sightseeing plane crashed in Alaska on Thursday, according to Promech Air, the company giving the tours. Eight of the people were on a cruise, which departed from Seattle on Saturday. 

The crash happened around 12:20 p.m. PDT about 20 miles northeast of Ketchikan, near Ella Lake, according to officials. 

Promech Air is an airline based in Ketchikan.

“There is nothing I can say that can alleviate the pain and overwhelming sense of loss that we and the loved ones of those affected are feeling,” Marcus Sessoms, president of Promech Air, said in a statement. “At this moment, all of us share the pain and anguish of this terrible event."

The DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter single-engine aircraft involved in the crash was carrying one pilot and eight passengers, according to Promech Air.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. None of the victims were identified. 

The plane was one of five Otter aircraft operated by Promech Air, according to the statement.

Clint Johnson, head of the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska office, told the Associated Press that the bodies have yet to be recovered due to weather.

“The initial rescue crew that went in had a very tough time because of the terrain,” Johnson told the AP. “It's a very steep, mountainous area, and weather conditions caused them to stand down."

The NTSB did not return calls for additional comment. 

The sightseeing outing was sold through the Holland America Line, according to a statement from the cruise line. 

The eight passengers were guests on the Westerdam, which departed Seattle for a seven-day cruise, according to Holland America Line.

“All of us at Holland America Line are incredibly saddened by this news and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those lost in this tragic accident,” the cruise line said in a statement.

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