Missing Lithuanian plane found on Baltic Sea bottom

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Vilnius, May 20 (IANS) A small Lithuanian plane which went missing on Saturday was found on the bottom of the Baltic Sea on Tuesday afternoon, the ministry of national defence said.

The single-engine plane, An-2, was found by Lithuanian warship Kursis using an underwater robotic video camera, Xinhua reported.

The ministry said the search for the bodies of the two pilots continues.

The aircraft was found roughly 700 metres away from the last position of the aircraft traced by Sweden’s coastal surveillance radar and reported by the Swedish Joint Rescue Coordination Centre. It was 63 nautical miles from Lithuanian shores.

The plane, which was flying from Gothenburg, Sweden, to Lithuania, lost contact with ground control on Saturday evening when 97 nautical miles from Lithuanian shores. It was the first case in Lithuanian civil aviation history that a plane had gone missing in the Baltic Sea.

“After navigating an underwater robot to the bottom of the sea and examining the plane, it has been identified that the number of the plane coincides with the number of the plane which had been searched at the operation,” Captain Lieutenant Antanas Brencius, representative of the Lithuanian naval force, told Lithuanian national broadcaster LRT.

However, Brencius said divers could not search the plane since special equipment was necessary to reach it as it was found at a depth of 124 metres. Local media reported the special equipment was due to reach the crash site on Wednesday.