A former senator who was Congress' longest-serving Republican died in a plane crash in Alaska, a spokesman for the family has confirmed.
Ted Stevens was aboard a small plane with eight other passengers that plummeted into the ground Monday night, officials said.
Mitch Rose, a spokesman for the Stevens family, confirmed that the former Senator died in the crash, The Associated Press reported.
Dave Dittman, a former aide and longtime family friend, also told Anchorage TV station KTUU he had received a call saying the 86-year-old was among those killed, though he later retracted that statement saying he wasn't sure if the information he had received was correct.
Four others also died in the crash, officials said.
Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe also was believed to have been aboard. It was unclear whether he was among the survivors.
Stevens survived a previous plane crash in 1978, also in Alaska. Five people died in that accident, including his first wife.
Alaska National Guard spokesman Maj. Guy Hayes said the Air Force 11th Rescue Coordination Center, which is operated by the Alaska National Guardsmen, was called to the area about 20 miles north of Dillingham at about 7 p.m. Monday after a passing aircraft saw the downed plane. But severe weather has hampered search-and-rescue efforts.
Several people in the area are assisting at the site of the crash, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
"They're not out there alone right now. There's people that are providing support," Hayes said. "From what I'm told, there are survivors on this aircraft. I don't know how many could be fatalities at this point."
Medical personnel are also at the scene, the Air National Guard said in a statement.
Stevens served in Congress for a record of 60 years before he was embroiled in an ethics scandal in 2008.
He was convicted on corruption charges of failing to disclose thousands of dollars of home improvements that were paid for by an Alaskan energy firm.
Though Attorney General Eric Holder ultimately dropped the corruption case against Stevens, the Senator lost his bid for re-election to Democrat Mark Begich.