According to flight tracking data, the Austrian-registered Cessna 551 took off from the southern Spanish city of Jerez on Sunday afternoon, made a detour over Paris and Cologne before heading straight for the Baltic Sea and crashing into water near the coast of Latvia.
“I can confirm that it was the private jet of the owner of our company, Karl Peter Griesemann,” said a spokesman for Cologne-based charter company Quick Air. According to him, KP Griesemann and three other people were flying on the plane.
The Cologne newspaper Express reported that the plane was piloted by KP Griesemann and was accompanied by his wife and daughter with her boyfriend.
Delphi already wrote that a private plane flying from Spain to the German city of Cologne veered off course and ended up far above the Baltic Sea, and eventually fell into the water off the coast of Latvia.
The German Air Force (Luftwafe) confirmed in a tweet on Sunday evening that the plane had crashed.
All contact with the aircraft was lost prior to the crash. According to the German newspaper “Bild”, the plane was flown by a pilot, a man, a woman and her daughter, but the source of the data is not specified.
Spanish newspaper El Pais, citing Spanish sources involved in the incident, reported that the plane likely belonged to a German family. The Austrian news agency APA reported that the plane was registered in Austria under the name of a German company.
Johan Ahlin, a spokesman for the Swedish Maritime Rescue Agency, said the coast guard found traces of oil in the water and smaller wreckage, Swedish broadcaster STV reported. Mr Ahlin said there was little hope of finding the plane’s passengers alive.
According to Bild, the plane reported pressure problems in the cabin after taking off from Jerez in southern Spain and lost contact with the ground shortly after it left the Iberian Peninsula.
An alert squadron consisting of two Eurofighter fighter jets was launched into German airspace due to the unusual flight behavior, a Luftwaffe spokesman told dpa on Sunday evening. According to initial data, the pilot may have lost consciousness.
The Cessna 551 was due to land at Cologne Airport, but flew past the German island of Rügen, into Swedish airspace, then south of the island of Gotland and on towards the Gulf of Riga before crashing into the sea.
A rescue operation is underway, a representative of the authorities told Latvian news agency Leta. Helicopters from Lithuania and Sweden are also participating in the search. It is not yet clear in which country the accident occurred.
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