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Eight holidaymakers and one pilot are dead after a small plane crashed into the side of an Alaskan mountain on Thursday afternoon in the United States.

The eight guests were passengers of Holland America Line’s msWesterdam, which was sailing a seven-day Inside Passage itinerary from Seattle. They were on a sightseeing tour with Promech Air in the Misty Fjords area of Ketchikan when the crash occurred.

“All of us at Holland America Line are incredibly saddened by this news. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those lost in this tragic accident,” the cruise line expressed in a statement.

The plane was found on a rock face about 240 metres above Ella Lake, an Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman told local television station KTVA.

The cause of the accident is not yet known.

No Australians were inside the aircraft; all passengers were from North America.