Search halted in Puerto Rico plane crash

/ Source: The Associated Press

Rough weather halted the search Monday for survivors of a small plane that crashed into the Atlantic after authorities recovered remains of one of six people on board.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Puerto Rican police planned to resume the search Tuesday off the island's north coast, officials said.

Authorities, working through heavy rain and high seas, recovered the remains of one man in the ocean off the city of Quebradillas, said Manuel Gomez, a police spokesman. The man could not immediately be identified because the remains had been mutilated by sharks, he said.

Witnesses reported an explosion as the single-engine plane went down Sunday evening, Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad said.

The pilot and all five passengers were identified as U.S. citizens, Castrodad said.

The privately owned Cessna 206 was flying from La Romana, Dominican Republic, to San Juan, according to Luis Luhring, president of the plane's charter company, Tropical Aviation Corp.

Among the passengers was Ralph Christiansen, an executive at the Puerto Rican insurance broker Marsh Saldana Inc., according to company-designated spokesman Luis Rodriguez. He said Christiansen had traveled to the Dominican Republic for business.

Officials said they were still confirming the identities of the others aboard the plane.

Witnesses reported hearing the sound of an engine struggling and seeing an explosion before the plane crashed about a half-mile (a kilometer) off shore, police spokeswoman Jessica Cardona said.

Rescue crews have reported seeing oil slicks and pieces of the plane's fuselage near the coast, Sauri said.

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