Update: Rescue teams in Dominica recover personal belongings as search continues for survivors of crashed airplane

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CMC: Rescue teams have found some personal items belonging to passengers on board a single-engine aircraft that crashed into the sea on leaving the Douglas Charles Airport, north east of here on Sunday night, the chief executive officer of the Dominica Air and Seaports Authority (DASPA), Benoit Bardouille has said.

Speaking on the state-owned DBS radio on Monday, Bardouille disputed earlier reports that the Piper F-OGKO aircraft, with four people, including the two pilots, was approaching the airport when the incident occurred at 6:43 pm (local time).

“Four souls are on that aircraft. What we are doing earnestly is to try to see how we can find the aircraft and the four souls that were on board,” he said.

Earlier reports had indicated that the plane had crashed soon after taking off from the airport, but Bardouille told listeners the French-registered small Piper aircraft, “was given clearance to take off from Douglas Charles Airport destined to Raizet Airport in Guadeloupe”.

Bardouille said the aircraft was airborne at about 6:43 p.m. (local time) and the pilot was instructed by the air traffic controller to report when he passed 1,500 feet in the climb.

He said a few minutes after giving the clearance, the air traffic controller tried to make contact with the pilot and was not successful.

“He did not make contact with the aircraft. He made several attempts but received no response. The traffic controller took a look at the radar …and could not identify the aircraft,” he said, adding Raizet Airport was immediately contacted and they informed the Douglas Charles control that they had no information on the aircraft.

He said that the necessary protocols were activated since the aircraft was considered to be missing with the fire services later receiving a call from residents in the Marigot area, close to the airport, about seeing a plane crash into the sea.

“Guadeloupe was notified as well as the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority and the search continued last night with two helicopters, the local Coast Guard and some of the fisherfolk in the Marigot area,” he said.

He said the search restarted on Monday in a new location and thus far, a bag and a passport have been found…and there is active search within that locality”.

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