An air and sea search continued Wednesday for two people missing after a Mexican-registered medical flight carrying four people crashed off the Florida coast.
Two doctors and two crew were aboard the Learjet 35, which went down in the Atlantic Ocean after taking off from Fort Lauderdale at 7:51 p.m. ET Tuesday, bound for Cozumel, Mexico.
Two bodies were recovered from a field of debris in waters two miles northeast of the airport, U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Gabe Somma said.
A Coast Guard helicopter and eight boat crews — including a Florida fire and rescue vessel — were involved in the search, he added.
Greg Meyer, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport spokesman, told NBC Miami that the last radio communication with the airport’s tower was at 8.20 p.m. ET Tuesday — almost half an hour after takeoff. There were four people on board, he said.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified, NBC Miami reported.
It was not immediately clear what caused flight to crash.
The FAA and Coast Guard did not confirm the identities of those on board, but in a statement reported by Reuters, Mexico's Communications and Transport Ministry named the pilots as Jose Galvan de la O. and Josue Buendia and the two passengers as Fernando Senties and Mariana Gonzalez.
U.S. Coast Guard via AP
Wreckage of a plane that crashed off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is brought aboard a Coast Guard boat Tuesday.
The two passengers, a doctor and a nurse, worked for AirEvac International, an unnamed dispatcher for the air ambulance and transportation company told Reuters.
"They had completed a mission, they were returning," he said, adding that the two pilots worked for the aircraft's operator and owner. It was not clear who was still missing.
"We are on pins and needles awaiting further notification," he told Reuters, adding "this is a really difficult, emotional situation."
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Miami, two Coast Guard cutters and two small boats, a Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue boat crew and three Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission search and rescue crews were contributing to the search effort.
Reuters contributed to this report.
First published November 20 2013, 3:43 AM