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Six Die in Plane Crash Off Alaska's Kodiak Island


Authorities in Alaska say six people died in the crash of a small plane near Kodiak Island.

Most of the victims were fishermen, members of Alaska's Russian Old Believers community, heading home for Orthodox Christmas celebrations Monday.

Four people survived the crash on Saturday. The twin-engine plane was traveling a short distance from Kodiak Island to Homer, a town on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula where the fishermen lived.

Shortly after takeoff, officials say the pilot said in a brief radio message that he needed to return to the airport. Instead, the plane crashed in shallow water not far from the end of the runway. Officials are investigating the cause of the accident.

A float-plane pilot who heard the first radio message headed for the crash site and took part in the rescue, along with Coast Guards.

The five fishermen who died in the crash ranged in age from 15 to 36 years old. The sixth victim was the plane's 50-year-old pilot.

The fishermen were Old Believers, members of a religious group that split from the main Russian Orthodox church more than three centuries ago. They observe the same calendar as most other Orthodox Christians, and were traveling home to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas Monday.

Travel by small aircraft is common in Alaska, because the vast, sparsely populated state has few roads.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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