Plane With 13 Passengers Disappears Near St. Vincent
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent (AP) _ A Twin Otter aircraft with 13 people aboard was reported missing on a flight from St. Lucia to this Caribbean island, airline officials said today.
The 19-seat plane was nearing Arnos Vale airport on St. Vincent at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday night, but lost touch with the control tower during a rain storm seven minutes before its scheduled landing, officials of LIAT Airlines said.
Eyewitnesses said the plane was preparing to land when it suddenly changed direction as if to circle for another approach. The plane was last seen about 2 miles off St. Vincent.
Among those aboard were seven people from St. Vincent, including the former foreign affairs minister, Hudson Tannis, and the 1984 Miss St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Donna Young. Also aboard were a Dominican, an Antiguan, two Italians, a Barbadian pilot and a Canadian co-pilot.
Some people at Cane Garden, a residential area overlooking the airport approach, said they heard an explosion shortly after the plane changed directions.
″There were absolutely no signs of any aircraft going down in the area,″ said David Ranger, commander of the George McIntosh, a vessel of the coast guard of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
He said the George McIntosh searched for the plane for about three hours after it was reported missing. Helicopters from Trinidad and Tobago were expected to join the search today.
St. Lucia and St. Vincent, about 50 miles apart, belong to the Windward Islands chain near Venezuela. The plane belongs to LIAT Airlines which is based in Antigua and Barbados.