A small plane crashed in waters off Kodiak island in southern Alaska, killing at least six of the 10 people on board, authorities said.
The Piper Navajo Chieftain crashed soon after take off on Saturday afternoon in shallow waters, according to the Coast Guard. A private float plane from a fish processing company pulled four people from the wreckage. Another person managed to swim to shore, said State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.
Troopers pulled five bodies from the water after the tide receded, Peters said. The pilot was among the dead, she said. The four remaining survivors were in stable condition at Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center, according to a Coast Guard statement.
No information about anyone on board has been released pending notification of family members.
The plane was headed to Homer, a quick flight north, on the Kenai Peninsula, according to Kodiak radio station KMXT. The aircraft is owned and operated by Servant Air, a local company that serves half a dozen communities on the large island in south-central Alaska, 225 miles (360 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage. The flight service started in 2003 as a one-plane operation and has grown to a fleet of seven small aircraft. Ted Panamarioff, a spokesman for Servant Air, said the deaths are a major tragedy for the small rural communities, where air travel is a regular part of life.
"We're all family and friends here," he said by phone from Kodiak. "We knew these customers for several years. This is really, really tragic."
Kodiak and Homer each have populations of roughly 6,000 people. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.