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July 22, 2012

Alaska Plane Crash Kills Two Australians

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Written by: BNO News
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Crash site of the Piper PA-32 Saratoga. (Map by Google/Matt Molnar)

Two Australian citizens were killed early Wednesday evening when their small plane crashed in Alaska during severe weather conditions, state troopers said on Friday. There were no survivors and the cause was not immediately known.

The accident occurred at around 6:54 pm local time on Wednesday when the Piper PA-32 Saratoga (N432LT) aircraft disappeared from radar about 39 miles (62 kilometers) north of Fairbanks, the second largest city in the state. The aircraft was carrying two people.

“Two individuals were found to be deceased inside the wreckage which was burning,” a spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers said on Friday. “Due to the deteriorating weather conditions, late hours and the fire on scene, it was determined that recovery efforts would be attempted on Thursday if weather allowed.”

A helicopter arrived in Fairbanks at 9 am local time on Thursday, but poor weather conditions in the mountainous area have continued to hamper the recovery effort. It was not immediately clear when rescue workers would be able to recover the remains, or when the wreckage will be removed.

Troopers identified the victims as pilot Stephen Knight, 64, and passenger Gillian Knight, 60, both of Queensland in Australia. They were traveling from Fort Yukon to Fairbanks, a flight covering more than 140 miles (225 kilometers). “Next of kin has been notified,” the spokesperson added.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known, but is being investigated by both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Earlier this month, businesswoman and former Alaska state legislator Cheryll Heinze was killed when a float plane carrying five members of Matanuska Electric Association (MEA)’s management team crashed at Beluga Lake near a small airport in Homer, a city about 122 miles (197 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage. The others survived the accident.

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