Coast Guard continues search in Bermuda Triangle for plane with 4 aboard
A US Coast Guard cutter was to search "through the night" for any survivors aboard a missing plane, parts of which were found floating in the Bermuda Triangle, officials said Wednesday evening (Thursday NZT).
The plane, carrying four people - an American CEO, her two young sons, and the pilot - went missing Monday afternoon.
A Coast Guard helicopter crew spotted a debris field about 24 kilometres east of Eleuthera, in the Bahamas, earlier Wednesday that yielded "confirmed components" of the type from the missing small plane.
Part of a seat and an air intake plug were found by a rescue swimmer who was lowered into the Atlantic Ocean from the helicopter, the Coast Guard said.
And a fuel slick also was spotted, according to National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss, who said the agency was investigating the crash.
The Coast Guard said the fuel slick was found within the debris field that was located by the Jayhawk helicopter crew Tuesday afternoon.
The passengers on the twin-engine Mitsubishi MU-2B bound for Florida from Puerto Rico were identified as Jennifer Blumin, 40, and her 3- and 4-year-old sons. Nathan Ulrich, 52, was listed as the pilot. Communications were lost on Monday afternoon while the plane was about 59kms east of Eleuthera.
"Parts in the debris field appear to be from that airplane. We believe it's debris from the plane," Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Woodall said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
The Coast Guard has hunted for the plane since Miami air traffic control reported it had lost radio and radar contact at 2:10 p.m. Monday.
On Tuesday, about 3:30 p.m., the helicopter crew found the debris field.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Coast Guard said it had spent more than 30 hours searching more than 20,000 square kilometres.
The plane was travelling at a speed of about 300 knots and was over 7000 metres above the ground when it lost contact with air traffic control, the Coast Guard said. The trip began in Borinquen, Puerto Rico, about 11 a.m., the Coast Guard said, and the travellers were headed for Titusville in Florida.
Blumin is the founder and chief executive of Skylight Group, a Manhattan firm that finds venues for top fashion shows.
"We can confirm that the plane carrying Jennifer Blumin and members of her family has gone missing after taking off from Puerto Rico yesterday," a company official said in an email statement Tuesday. "Her family is working with investigators and we politely ask that you respect their privacy at this time."
The Coast Guard said it deployed a C-130 Hercules airplane crew to search for the overdue plane on Monday. On Tuesday, it said it sent out another C-130 Hercules and a Jayhawk helicopter crew to continue the search.