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2 dead, including child, and 1 missing after plane crashes in Gulf of Mexico 

Police in Venice, Florida, said Sunday they were still searching for a male pilot or passenger believed to have been on board the Piper Cherokee when it crashed.

Two people are dead, including a child, and one person is missing after a plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend, police in Venice, Florida, said.

Officers launched a search Sunday morning after 10 a.m. EST after the Venice Municipal Airport received an inquiry from the Federal Aviation Administration about a Piper Cherokee that had failed to return to its origin airport in St. Petersburg, about 60 miles north of Venice, the Venice Police Department said.

The FAA said in a statement that the plane had departed the Venice Municipal Airport at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday and was believed to have had three people onboard.

As officers launched their search the next morning, "recreational boaters located a deceased female floating in the Gulf, approximately 2.5 miles west of Venice Beach," police said in a statement Sunday night.

Search and rescue efforts on Sunday after a plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico.
Search and rescue efforts on Sunday after a plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. Venice Police Department

Hours later, at around 2 p.m. the wreckage of the missing Piper Cherokee was located around 1/3 of a mile west offshore, directly west of the Venice Municipal Airport, police said.

It was in the plane's passenger area that divers from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office found the body of a dead child, police said.

A male pilot or passenger was also believed to be in the plane during the flight, police said. However, they said he had yet to be found.

Police did not share the identity of the missing person, or of the female and child found dead.

"This is a very active search and investigation," the Venice Police Department said.

Police said that while they had information on the man believed to be missing, they would not be releasing that information until their family members could be notified and clearance given from other involved agencies, including the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

They said search efforts would continue until sunset and resume "as conditions allow."

The FAA did not immediately respond to an overnight request for comment from NBC News.