Ten killed in Alaska air taxi crash

Police and emergency crews stand near the plane wreckage at Soldotna airport. Photo: 7 July 2013
First responders could not immediately reach the aircraft because of a fire

An air taxi has crashed in the US state of Alaska, killing all 10 people aboard, officials say.

The accident happened on Sunday at the Soldotna airport, south of Anchorage, as the plane took off.

The fixed-wing aircraft was engulfed in flames before firefighters could reach it, local officials said.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has sent investigators to the crash, one of several in the state this year.

Travelling across the state by plane is common in Alaska because of the limited road system and hazardous weather.

The de Havilland DHC3 Otter crashed and burned at about 11:00 local (19:00 GMT) on Sunday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft had been operated by Rediske Air.

"We saw the plume immediately when we left the station," fire captain Lesley Quelland told the Anchorage Daily News.

"The aircraft was crashed off the side of the runway and it was fully involved in flames," she added.

It took firefighters 10 minutes to put out the blaze, she said.

All the victims, one pilot and nine passengers, died inside the plane.

None of the deceased have been officially identified, but a Rediske Air employee confirmed to the Peninsula Clarion newspaper it had been flown by pilot and company owner Willy Rediske.

Soldotna police have said the remains of all 10 people have been sent to the state medical examiner's office in Anchorage for autopsies and positive identifications.

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