Politics

Private jet mystery sees plane crash into Baltic Sea



Four people are feared dead after a private plane crashed off the coast of Latvia Sunday night in an incident that saw NATO scramble jets to follow the aircraft’s erratic course.

The Austrian-registered Cessna 551 was meant to be carrying four passengers, according to a flight plan, Latvia’s civil aviation authority said in a statement Sunday. Yet, those sent to inspect the jet could not see anyone in the cockpit, raising questions about what might have unfolded in the lead-up to the crash.

The aircraft was flying from Spain to Cologne, but appeared to change course during the flight, with air traffic controllers unable to communicate with the aircraft’s crew, the statement said.

The aircraft belonged to German businessman Georg Griesemann, his company, Quick Air, confirmed on Monday, according to Reuters.

The company, which provides jet charter services, did not say whether Griesemann or any of his family members were believed to be onboard the flight when it crashed. Quick Air did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

The jet took off from Jerez in southern Spain at around 12:56 p.m. GMT (8:56 a.m. ET) and was headed to Cologne, Germany, according to the FlightRadar24 website.

The aircraft appeared to turn at Paris, France, and again at Cologne in Germany, before flying out over the Baltic and passing the Swedish island of Gotland. Hours after its departure, it was listed on the flight tracker as swiftly losing speed and altitude.

“We’ve learned that the plane has crashed (in the ocean) north-west of the town of Ventspils in Latvia,” a spokesperson for Sweden’s rescue service said. “It has disappeared from the radar.”

German and Danish war planes were also sent to inspect the aircraft as it passed through their airspace, but they were unable to make contact, Johan Wahlstrom of the Swedish Maritime Administration said.

“They could not see anyone in the cockpit,” he said.

A wreck, a patch of waste and an oil-like slick had been spotted near the crash site, Latvian search and rescue head Peteris Subbota told Latvian television, adding no passengers had been found.

The search and rescue service did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.



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