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Mon, May 05, 2008

Cessna 310 With Six Onboard Missing In Brazil

Crews Expand Area As Search Enters Third Day

Crews expanded the search on Sunday for an aircraft, carrying four British businessmen, missing since Friday in the Bahia region of northeastern Brazil.

BBC reported the search is had been focusing on an area 20 miles (32km) north of Ilheus, where an eyewitness said they had seen a small plane flying unusually low and without lights on Friday evening. The Press Association reports the search now includes a 400 sq. km. section of jungle in addition to the coastal searches around the city.

The twin-engine Cessna 310 lost contact with air traffic controllers 13 km off the coast, only nine minutes before it was due to land.

Aboard were two pilots from Brazil's Aero Star airline and four British businessmen identified as Alan Kempson, Nigel Hodges, Sean Woodhall and Ricky Every.

Ellen Duarte, a spokesperson for the airline, stated the aircraft's last contact with the Ilheus control tower was at 1743 local time as it flew south from Salvador, Bahia's state capital.

"It was flying perfectly," she said. "The pilot said he was making a visual approach to the airport, and that was the last we heard."

Weather conditions were reported as good and pilots reported no mechanical problems.

Coast Guard crews from Brazil and three helicopters had found no signs of a crash in their search on Saturday. Several dozen rescue workers have joined the continuing search in the expanded area. The Brazilian air force, police and volunteers were searching for the plane on land and sea, said Alan Bandeira, an official with Brazil's Infraero airport authority in the state of Bahia to the International Herald Tribune.

Local news media reported that authorities found what appeared to be plane wreckage on Sunday, but Bandeira said he could not confirm the information.

The four men were travelling from Salvador to Ilheus as part of an exploratory trip connected to a future housing development planned by Woodhall's firm, Worldwide Destinations.

FMI: www.infraero.gov.br

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