April 15, 2024

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Cessna private plane crashes off the coast of Latvia

Cessna private plane crashes off the coast of Latvia

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VILNIUS (Reuters) – A private Cessna plane crashed off the coast of Latvia on Sunday evening, the Swedish rescue service said, after NATO quickly followed its erratic course.

The Austrian-registered Cessna 551 was flying from Jerez in southern Spain, taking off at 1256 GMT with no specific destination, according to Flightradar24.

It turned twice, in Paris and Cologne, before heading directly over the Baltic Sea, passing near the Swedish island of Gotland. At 1737 GMT, it was listed in the flight tracker as rapidly losing speed and altitude.

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“We have learned that the plane crashed (in the ocean) northwest of the Latvian town of Ventspils,” a Swedish rescue service spokesman said. It has disappeared from the radar screens.

Johan Wallström of the Swedish Maritime Administration said German and Danish warplanes were earlier sent to inspect the planes as they passed through the airspace of those two countries, but they were unable to contact.

“They couldn’t see anyone in the cockpit,” he said.

The German newspaper Bild reported that the plane was carrying the pilot, a man, a woman and a person it described as a daughter, without obtaining information.

A Lithuanian Air Force spokesman said a Lithuanian Air Force helicopter had been sent to the crash site for search and rescue at the request of neighboring Latvia. Latvia said it had sent ships to the scene.

“Our ships are on their way to the site where the crash occurred,” said Leva Vita, a spokeswoman for the Latvian Navy.

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The Stena Line ferry bound from Ventspils to Norvik in Sweden has also been redirected to the crash site, according to the MarineTraffic website. The site showed a helicopter and a Swedish search and rescue plane at the site as well.

A Lithuanian Air Force spokesperson said earlier that a fighter plane from the NATO Baltic States Air Police Mission at Amari Airport in Estonia took off to track the plane, without giving further details.

The company listed as owner of the plane in the Austrian aircraft registry, GG Rent, registered in Cologne, could not be immediately reached for comment.

(This story corrects the reported details of the people on board, paragraph 7)

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(Reporting by Andrios Setas, Terje Solsvik, and Thomas Eskerrit); Writing by Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Frances Kerry and Hugh Lawson

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.