A high school swim team was aboard a commuter plane that went off the runway while landing late last night. Two passengers are “critically” injured, with 10 others receiving medical care.
A major investigation is being launched to determine the cause of the accident, and if the fault lies with someone.
A commuter plane, a Saab-Scania 2000, was carrying 42 passengers when it went off the end of the runway while landing yesterday just after 5:30 pm.
The plane was landing at the small airport in Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands, home to the Dutch harbor, which is one of the nation’s busiest fishing ports. Unalaska is tiny – it only has a population of about 4,300 according to 2010 census data, which is 79% of the entire Aleutians West Census Area.
The plane was being operated by Peninsula Airways, or PenAir for short. PenAir is owned and operated by the Ravn Air Group, which primarily serves small communities in Alaska. Generally speaking, the pilot and the crew should have been very familiar with this airport.
A spokesman for the company said they are working closest with the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, to ensure the investigation is completed.
According to a school official, none of the swim team was injured. Only hours after the crash, they were eating pizza and laughing about their experience.
Local authorities said that there were 3 crew members in addition to 38 passengers, for a total of 41 onboard. The airline, however, said that there was a total of 39 passengers, bringing the count of lives aboard the plane to 42.
The only information we have right now is that two are “critically” injured, and ten more are receiving treatment for injuries. While the head of the NTSB for Alaska didn’t respond to initial inquiries about the accident, he told a local television statement that he could not “immediately say” whether anyone perished in the crash.
“We’ve got a major investigation going on here, and there’s all sorts of rumors going around. We’re trying to get an investigator down, and the rest of the team will be coming from Washington DC.”
According to initial speculation, high winds may have driven the plane off course and prevented it from stopping as planned. Locals have already welcomed stranded passengers, including the swim team, into their home.