Police and emergency personnel stand near the remains of a fixed-wing aircraft… (Rashah McChesney / Associated…)
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive Monday at a small Alaska airport where an air taxi crash killed all 10 people aboard.
As firefighters arrived at the runway crash Sunday morning, the De Havilland DHC-3 Otter was engulfed in flames at the Soldotna airport, about 75 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula.
“We have a team headed to Alaska and we’re going to do an on-scene investigation,” Terry Williams, an NTSB spokesman in Washington, told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re going to talk to witnesses, look at the aircraft and the engine, make sure the parts are all there.”
The pilot and nine passengers were killed. Their identities have not been released.
The Alaska accident came just a day after an Asiana Airlines jet crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport, killing two Chinese teenagers and injuring 182.
Officials believe the plane crashed shortly after departure from the municipal airport, about a mile from Soldotna's commercial business area, near the Kenai River.
Air travel is common in Alaska, a state with limited roads.
Capt. Lesley Quelland of the Central Emergency Services told the Anchorage Daily News that the big cloud of black smoke was visible for miles. She said firefighters found "the aircraft was crashed off the side of the runway and it was fully involved in flames.”
The Otter was operated by Rediske Air, based out of another Kenai Peninsula community, Nikiski, officials said. A company employee confirmed to the local Peninsula Clarion newspaper that the aircraft was flown by Nikiski pilot and company owner Willy Rediske.
Officials said the remains of all 10 people have been sent to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Anchorage for autopsies.
Soldotna, with a population of about 4,300, is busy this time of the year with people fishing for salmon.
“The team should be on site for at least three or four days in what we call the on-scene phase of the investigation,” Williams told The Times. “We don’t know how long it will take to determine a cause for the crash.”
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