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Rescue search will not resume for light aircraft pilot who crashed in sea

Published 07/08/2016

RNLI boats were deployed in the search
RNLI boats were deployed in the search

The rescue search for a pilot whose light aircraft crashed into the sea will not be resumed, the coastguard has said.

The plane, which is believed to have had only one person on board, plummeted into the water just after 5pm on Saturday around half a mile off Rye Harbour in East Sussex.

Coastguard helicopters and lifeboats combed the sea for survivors but had to call off the search when darkness fell.

A coastguard spokeswoman said the rescue operation will not be resumed, adding: "There was a very intensive search yesterday and there aren't any plans to restart this morning, unless there is any further information.

"The helicopter was at the scene very quickly and if there had been anything on the surface it would have been seen.

"The aircraft and pilot weren't above the water - there was sheen and bits of debris.

"It is not an active search and rescue operation now."

The alarm was raised at 5.05pm and reports indicated one person was on board the aircraft, the coastguard said.

Wreckage from the plane was washed ashore later that day and police are appealing for any witnesses to the incident to come forward.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "Just after 5pm on Saturday we received a report from a member of the public that a light aircraft had been seen to go into the sea about half a mile off Winchelsea Beach.

"A Coastguard helicopter has been searching the area, and we are in contact with them.

"Initial reports suggest that the aircraft comes from a local aero club and that the man flying it was the sole occupant.

"Some wreckage which is believed to be from an aircraft has been found washed ashore at Winchelsea Beach."

The Air Accident Investigation Branch has been informed and will be carrying out an investigation.

Anyone who saw what happened is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101 quoting reference 1172 of 06/08.

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