Four presumed dead as private plane crashes off Latvian coast in Baltic Sea

Swedish rescue services reported that a private Cessna plane crashed off the coast of Latvia on Sunday evening after NATO dispatched jets to follow its erratic path.

The plane took off at 12:56 p.m. from Jerez, in southern Spain, with no specific destination, the FlightRadar24 website said.

The Austrian-registered Cessna 551 circled twice, in Paris and Cologne, before returning straight over the Baltic, passing near the Swedish island of Gotland.

At 5:37 p.m. it was listed on the flight tracker as rapidly losing airspeed and altitude.

“We learned that the plane crashed [in the ocean] northwest of the town of Ventspils in Latvia,” said a representative of the Swedish rescue services. “He disappeared from radar.”

German and Danish warplanes had earlier been sent to inspect the plane as it passed through their airspace, but were unable to establish contact, said Johan Wahlstrom of the Swedish Maritime Administration.

“They couldn’t see anyone in the cockpit,” Mr. Wahlstrom said.

german newspaper Image reported that the plane was carrying the pilot, a man, a woman and a person he described as a girl, without giving the sources of the information.

A Lithuanian Air Force helicopter was dispatched to the crash site at the request of neighboring Latvia, a Lithuanian Air Force official said. Latvia said it sent ships to the scene.

“Our ships are en route to where the plane crash happened,” said Liva Veita, Latvian Navy spokeswoman.

A Stena Line ferry traveling from Ventspils to Norvik in Sweden was also redirected to the crash site, the MarineTraffic website said.

He also showed a Swedish search and rescue helicopter and aircraft at the site.

The company listed as the plane’s owner in the Austrian Aircraft Register, GG Rent, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Fighter jets from NATO’s Baltic Air Police Mission at Amari Airfield in Estonia took off earlier to follow the plane, the Lithuanian Air Force said.

Updated: September 05, 2022, 05:15