Light aircraft crashes into sea near Shoreham, passengers swim to safety
Two air passengers are said to have swum ashore to safety after their aircraft crashed into the sea near Shoreham.
Emergency services were alerted to the crash at 3.50pm on Thursday, Sussex Police said.
A force spokesman said: "Two people are reported to have escaped from the aircraft, believed to be a Cessna.
"They swam ashore after the plane came down quite close to the beach and are thought to be uninjured at this time."
Shoreham RNLI said on Twitter it had launched its all weather lifeboat after reports that a light aircraft had crashed a mile off Shoreham. No casualties were reported.
A spokeswoman from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "The UK Coastguard received multiple 999 calls at approximately 3.50pm today reporting that a small plane with two people on board had ditched into the water off Shoreham.
"The Shoreham Coastguard Rescue Team and RNLI lifeboat were immediately tasked, along with the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Lee-on-Solent.
"Thankfully both individuals are now ashore safe and well and in the care of Sussex Police and the South East Ambulance Service."
South East Coast Ambulance Service said it dispatched an ambulance and single responder to the scene.
The patients were assessed at the scene and neither required hospital treatment.
Pictures shared on social media showed the plane in the sea not far from a shingle beach, appearing to be submerged except for its tail and one wing.
An orange rescue helicopter was on the ground nearby.
Jim Barrow, from Worthing in West Sussex, who took the photos, said he was cycling home when he saw the lifeguard helicopter landing on the beach.
The 48-year-old told the Press Association: "It's not the kind of place you normally see a helicopter landing so I went round to have a look.
"One guy, who I assume was the pilot, was soaked to the skin but he was standing up and talking on the phone so he looked OK.
"We're used to seeing planes fly over but not like that."