ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An air taxi crashed Sunday at a small Alaska airport, killing all 10 people on board and leaving the aircraft fully engulfed in flames before firefighters could get to it, authorities said.
The de Havilland DHC3 Otter air taxi crashed just after 11 a.m. at the airport in Soldotna, a community about 75 miles southwest of Anchorage and located on the Kenai Peninsula.
"We do have 10 fatalities, unfortunately, nine passengers, one pilot," National Transportation Safety Board investigator Clint Johnson told The Associated Press.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the Otter was operated by Rediske Air, based out of another Kenai Peninsula community, Nikiski.
Will Satathite, who was working Sunday at Rediske Air's Nikiski office, confirmed to the Peninsula Clarion newspaper that the aircraft was flown by Nikiski pilot and company owner Willy Rediske with nine passengers onboard.
A man who didn't identify himself at the Rediske office declined comment later Sunday to the AP, saying the crash was under investigation.
Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Meagan Peters said a fire that consumed the aircraft initially kept firefighters from reaching the wreckage. The victims have not been identified.
The Soldotna Police Department said Sunday evening that the remains of all 10 people have been recovered and sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Anchorage for autopsies and positive identifications.
Police said in a release through the Alaska State Troopers that weather at the time of the crash was reported to be cloudy with a light wind.
Johnson said initial reports have the plane crashing after departure, but that will have to be confirmed by investigators.
The NTSB is sending an investigative team from Washington, D.C., and they are scheduled to arrive Monday afternoon. Also taking part will be Alaska-based investigator Brice Banning, who was called back from the Asiana crash in San Francisco Sunday.