UK
21/07/2013 14:11 BST | Updated 21/07/2013 19:15 BST

Plane Crashes Into English Channel With One Person On Board Who Is Missing

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UPDATE: The search has been suspended for the night

British and French emergency teams have responded to reports that a light aircraft has crashed into the English Channel.

The American-registered plane carrying one person on board came down about 15 miles off Dungeness in Kent at around 2.30pm.

A cross-Channel search and rescue operation has been launched involving both English and French teams, including a French helicopter and the Dungeness RNLI lifeboat.

The alarm was raised after the single-engine light aircraft, which was heading from London to Le Touquet, was overdue, a spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said.

The incident happened four miles inside UK waters and is being co-ordinated by the British with help from the French authorities.

An MCA spokesman said: "We had reports that an aircraft was overdue. It was heading from London to Le Touquet.

"It was an American-registered aircraft with one person on board. The search has been involving a French helicopter and it has been searching for two hours.

"That will have to return shortly and that will be replaced by a search and rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham in Suffolk.

"The Dungeness lifeboat is en route and we believe the Calais lifeboat is also involved. The search is ongoing at the moment to find the pilot.

"We still have about six hours of daylight left."

The French search and rescue helicopter found wreckage around 15 miles off Dungeness, the MCA said later.

The spokesman said: "The search and rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham has now joined in with the search, along with the Dungeness RNLI lifeboat, and three French vessels."

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch spokesman said: "The AAIB have deployed a team to collect evidence and begin an initial investigation.

"The position of the aircraft will determine if the full investigation will be led by the AAIB or the French authorities."