Riga / Cologne (dpa) – A private plane on the way from Spain to Cologne flew over the Baltic Sea and crashed into the sea off the coast of Latvia. The Air Force confirmed the plane’s crash on Twitter on Sunday evening. Previously, all contact with the plane was broken off. According to “Bild” information, a pilot, a man, a woman and her daughter were on board.
The coast guard discovered traces of oil on the water and smaller pieces of debris, said Johan Ahlin from the Swedish Maritime Rescue Agency, according to the Swedish broadcaster STV. There is probably no hope for the occupants of the plane.
As a spokesman for the Air Force confirmed to the German Press Agency on Sunday evening, alarm squads consisting of two Eurofighters rose in German airspace to get an idea of the unusual flight behavior. According to initial findings, the pilot may have lost consciousness.
Aviation safety expert Hans Kjäll told Swedish news agency TT pressure problems could have caused passengers to lose consciousness. This can happen quickly, especially at altitudes where small aircraft are used.
Plane should have landed in Cologne-Bonn
The aircraft was a Cessna 551, as reported by the Swedish newspaper “Dagens Nyheter”. The machine flew beyond the island of Rügen, entered Swedish airspace, flew it south of Gotland and further towards the Gulf of Riga, then crashed into the sea. Actually, the plane should have landed at Cologne-Bonn Airport in the early evening.
“Bild” reported that the machine reported pressure problems in the cabin after taking off from Jerez in southern Spain. Accordingly, contact with the ground broke off just behind the Iberian Peninsula. In the airspace over France, a squad from the French army took over, before a squad from Neuburg an der Donau and later from Rostock-Laage took off in German airspace.
A government representative told the Latvian news agency Leta that the rescue operation is currently in full swing. Air force forces also wanted to take part in the operation, for which a Stena Line passenger ferry was also diverted. The ferry should be ready for possible rescue operations.
The head of the Latvian Sea Rescue Coordination Center previously said on Latvian television that searches were being coordinated and the area was being combed. Search helicopters from Lithuania and Sweden are also involved. There is currently disagreement as to which jurisdiction the crash falls into.
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