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10 killed in Alaska air taxi fire

From Cristy Lenz and Justin Lear, CNN
updated 2:44 PM EDT, Mon July 8, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The flight was supposed to take passengers to a lodge, the lodge's owner says
  • The aircraft "struck the runway and burned" at a southern Alaska airport, FAA says
  • By the time firefighters arrived, the aircraft was engulfed
  • "There were 10 souls on the aircraft and all perished," an official says

(CNN) -- All 10 people aboard an air taxi were killed when it crashed and burst into flames at a small airport on southern Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, authorities said.

The single-engine de Havilland DHC-3 Otter "struck the runway and burned" around 11:20 a.m. Sunday at the Soldotna Airport, about 60 miles southwest of Anchorage, the Federal Aviation Administration said, citing local law enforcement officials.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the aircraft was taking off or landing at the time, the FAA said. By the time firefighters and medics arrived, the aircraft was engulfed, Soldotna police said.

"There were 10 souls on the aircraft and all perished," said Capt. Lesley Quelland with the Central Emergency Services, which serves the Soldotna area.

The flight was supposed to take passengers to Bear Mountain Lodge off Alaska's Chinitna Bay, about 80 miles southwest of Soldotna, the lodge's co-owner, Mac McGahan, told CNN on Monday.

The plane was operated by Rediske Air, according to the FAA.

A woman who answered the phone at Rediske declined to answer questions and deferred questions to the National Transportation Safety Board, which has been called in to investigate the crash.

Rediske Air Inc. appears in an online directory of charter-plane companies, AirCharterGuide.com. The company, based in Nikiski, Alaska, was established in 1991, according to Alaska's Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing.

The airport is about a mile from the center of Soldotna, a community of about 4,100 people.

CNN's Rene Marsh contributed to this report.

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