Airplane carrying 8 people crashes off North Carolina coast

BEAUFORT, N.C. -- A small plane carrying eight people crashed into the ocean off North Carolina's Outer Banks and left behind a debris field where crews searched for the missing passengers, the Coast Guard said.

Officials said Monday that one body has been found and identified. The victim's name has not been released.

One body has so far been recovered and identified, Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck told reporters Monday afternoon. He declined to release that person's name or details about the other people who were on board, including their ages, "out of respect for the families."

"We have no indication that anyone survived the crash," the sheriff said.

That victim was found Sunday, Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck said.

"We are still at this time in the process of locating the main fuselage in an attempt to locate that section of the planes and continue to locate any passengers on the plane," Buck said.

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Officials give an update Monday afternoon on a search for a crashed plane off the North Carolina coast.



The sheriff said numerous citizens and private vessels also joined in to help. The search and recovery went well into the night and morning and resumed early Monday morning.

Buck said the debris field has moved further offshore 10 15 miles and there are now three separate debris fields.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Matthew J. Baer told reporters that multiple vessels from various agencies are continuing the search.

"We've got an all-hands-on-deck event going on here," Baer said. "And we want the citizens of Carteret County and eastern North Carolina to know that your Coast Guard is out there doing our absolute best alongside our partners."

Most of the family members of the plane's passengers live in Carteret, a coastal county of nearly 70,000 people, Buck said. The county includes communities such as Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach as well as the Cape Lookout National Seashore and its iconic Outer Banks lighthouse, which has a black-and-white diamond pattern.

"We've been in very close contact with the family members," the sheriff said.

The Coast Guard said in a news release that it received a report of a possible downed aircraft about 4 miles east of Drum Inlet from a Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point air traffic controller Sunday. The air traffic controller reported that the aircraft was behaving erratically on radar, then disappeared from the screen.

"Our prayers and deep concerns go to the families and loved ones of the passengers," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted Monday afternoon. "We're grateful for the people in our state and local agencies who are supporting the efforts of the Coast Guard and other first responders."

The single-engine Pilatus PC-12/47 crashed into the water approximately 18 miles northeast of Michael J. Smith Field in Beaufort, about 2 p.m. local time Sunday, according to an email from the Federal Aviation Administration. A preliminary accident notification on the FAA's website noted that the aircraft "crashed into water under unknown circumstances."

FlightAware listed a departure for that plane from Hyde County Airport at 1:35 p.m. Sunday and noted it was last seen near Beaufort at 2:01 p.m. A total of eight people were aboard, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Edward Wargo said searchers have found a debris field in the area. The search included boats and a helicopter from three Coast Guard stations, local fire and sheriff's department personnel and National Park Service beach crews.

The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted Monday that it is investigating the crash.

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