Small plane with 8 cruise passengers onboard crashes in Alaska

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By Pat St. Claire

(CNN) — A small plane carrying a pilot and eight passengers from a cruise ship was believed to have crashed in Ketchikan, Alaska, Thursday.

The plane was on a shore excursion, sold through Holland America Line, when the accident happened about 20 miles northeast of Ketchikan, near Ella Lake.

The United States Coast Guard and local search and rescue teams are en route to the accident site.

“We are incredibly distressed by this situation and our thoughts and prayers are with those onboard the plane and their families,” Holland America said in a written statement.

The eight passengers were from the ms Westerdam, according to the statement. Westerdam is sailing a seven-day Inside Passage cruise round-trip from Seattle. It departed June 20.

Ian Gregor, with the Federal Aviation Administration, confirmed the aircraft was a DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter and that it crashed under unknown circumstances above Ella Lake.

CNN’s Greg Morrison contributed to this report.