Latvia: Private plane crashed in the Baltic Sea: Four feared dead

After the mysterious crash of a private jet in the Baltic Sea, there is still no trace of the four occupants.

Latvia: Private plane crashed in the Baltic Sea: Four feared dead

After the mysterious crash of a private jet in the Baltic Sea, there is still no trace of the four occupants. In a comprehensive search operation at sea, Latvian forces have so far found a larger piece of the wreckage of the plane and several pieces of debris, but no passengers.

According to media reports, a family from North Rhine-Westphalia could have been on board. "We continue to search for survivors," the head of the Latvian Sea Rescue Coordination Center, Peteris Subbota, told the Swedish news agency TT. In addition, they want to track down more wreckage and ensure that no oil has leaked.

Fighter jets ascended

The private plane flew on Sunday on its way from Jerez in southern Spain to Cologne over the Baltic Sea and crashed into the sea off the coast of Latvia in the evening. Interceptors from several countries followed the machine during its mysterious flight over large parts of the European continent, including German ones. A Swedish Coast Guard plane eventually spotted the crash site west of the Latvian port of Ventspils before the search operations began. On Tuesday, drones should also be used to search under water.

According to the authorities, four people were on board the Cessna 551. However, communication with the aircraft had been interrupted for a long time before the accident, Subbota said on Latvian television. The identity of the inmates has not yet been officially confirmed. The Spanish newspaper "El País" reported, citing Spanish sources familiar with the incident, that a German family was said to have owned the machine. A 72-year-old, his four-year-old wife, a daughter of the couple (26) and a man of their age (27) are said to have been on board. The Foreign Office told the dpa: "Our embassy in Riga is in close contact with the Latvian authorities and is trying to clarify the facts."

Several media reported that it was an entrepreneur from North Rhine-Westphalia and his family. The Ministry of the Interior in Düsseldorf, the Cologne police and the older man's company did not initially confirm this. According to information from the Austrian news agency APA, the jet was registered in Austria and licensed to a German company.

A number of open questions

This left a number of unanswered questions even on the day after the mysterious ghost flight. Authorities believe the jet-powered Cessna was on autopilot. It flew past the destination airport Cologne/Bonn with undiminished height and speed and then over North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to over the Baltic Sea, according to police circles. West of the Latvian capital Riga, she went into descent. At times, French and German interceptors accompanied the machine. No movements were discernible in the cockpit.

The flight safety expert Hans Kjäll suspected, according to the Swedish broadcaster SVT, that there could have been a pressure drop in the cabin of the aircraft, after which the occupants had become unconscious. The plane was flying at an altitude of about 11,000 meters, where the air pressure is low. If there is a drop in pressure at such an altitude, you can expect to become unconscious, he said.

According to the head of the Latvian Accident Investigation Board, Anita Skinuma, the crash occurred in neutral waters. Therefore, the investigation could be carried out both by the country where the aircraft is registered and by the country whose nationals were on board. So far, however, nothing has been found that would indicate the nationality of the inmates, she told the Latvian news agency Leta on Monday.

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