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Probe as ex-senator dies in crash

An amphibious plane has crashed into a remote mountainside, killing Alaska's most beloved political figure and four others and stranding the survivors for a night.

Former US Republican Senator Ted Stevens and the eight other people in the single-engine plane were on a fishing trip when the flight hit sudden fog and rain in a rugged area of south-western Alaska.

Three teenagers and their parents, including the former head of Nasa, were on the plane when it crashed into the mountain on Monday with so much force that it left a 300-foot gash on the slope, US federal investigators said.

A doctor and two emergency medical technicians hiked to the scene and tended to the survivors' broken bones, cuts and bruises as they spent a cold night on the mountain with the smell of jet fuel wafting through the air.

A 13-year-old boy survived but had to spend the night near his dead father and the senator.

A mother and her 16-year-old daughter died. Former Nasa chief Sean O'Keefe survived, along with his teenage son.

The 86-year-old Mr Stevens' death stunned politicians and residents alike because of his pre-eminence in Alaska history.

A decorated Second World War pilot, who survived a deadly 1978 plane crash, he was the longest-serving Republican senator in history and became the patron saint of Alaska politics as he brought billions of federal dollars home to be spent on the state.

One failed effort - the Bridge to Nowhere - became part of his national legacy, as did corruption convictions that helped foil his 2008 campaign after 40 years in office. The case was later thrown out.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have arrived at the crash site outside Dillingham, located on Bristol Bay about 325 miles south-west of Anchorage. The cause of the accident was not immediately known, but the weather is one area investigators will examine.

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