KINGSTON (Reuters) - The search for the wreckage of a small U.S. private plane that crashed off the northeast coast of Jamaica continued into the evening on Saturday, after searchers spotted an oil slick where the aircraft is believed to have hit the water, authorities said.
The plane, with an unresponsive pilot, crashed on Friday after veering far off its course to Florida and triggering a U.S. security alert that prompted a fighter jet escort.
The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority said the wreckage is believed to have sunk into the ocean in an area about 6,600 feet (2,000 meters) deep. Neither debris nor bodies had been recovered by Saturday night, authorities said.
“We would have to assume that the debris sank because we didn’t find it at the surface,” Jamaica Coast Guard Commander Antonette Wemyss-Gorman said at a news conference on Saturday.
The Jamaica Defence Force “conducted searches overnight and this morning in same location where they spotted an oil spill,” she said.
The crash site is believed to be about 14 miles (22 km) north of the coastal town of Port Antonio.
Two people aboard the plane are believed to have been killed: Larry Glazer, a real-estate executive from Rochester, New York; and his wife, Jane Glazer. It is not yet known if anyone else was on the plane.
“We have been in contact with the family, and we’re keeping them updated,” said Elizabeth Lee Martinez, chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston. She declined to give more information.
The pilot stopped responding to radio calls about an hour after take-off from Greater Rochester International Airport and was headed to Naples Municipal Airport in Florida, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reported.
The Glazers were known to jet between homes in Rochester and Naples, local media reported.
As the plane veered off course and flew away from Florida, it was trailed by U.S. fighter jets that halted their escort as it entered Cuban airspace, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said.
NORAD suggested on its Twitter page that the aircraft’s pilot may have suffered “possible hypoxia,” a rare condition caused by a loss of cabin pressure that may have left everyone on board unconscious.
Writing by Letitia Stein; Editing by G Crosse, Sharon Bernstein and Mohammad Zargham