Rescuers hunt Brazilian plane carrying four UK passengers

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

A similar Cessna 310

Rescuers in Brazil are seeking a plane that disappeared Friday carrying six people, two local pilots and four British investors interested in a possible new housing development.

The dual-engined Cessna 310, operated by Aero Star, lost contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC) eight miles (13km) off the coast near Ilheus, where it was intending to land in nine minutes time and was making a visual approach to Ilhéus Jorge Amado Airport. The flight had originated in Salvador and made last contact at 5:43 p.m. local time (2043 GMT) with Ilheus control tower.

The four passengers have been identified as Sean Woodhall, Ricky Every, Alan Kempson and Nigel Hodges. The planned development they had been considering is a luxury estate planned by Worldwide Destinations, who Sean Woodhall owns. It is based in Spain and constructs worldwide luxury property developments.

Ricky Every works for Worldwide Destinations, and Alan Kempson and Nigel Hodges are both directors of UK finance company Diamond Lifestyle Holdings, who had been considering a deal with Worldwide. At least three of the four did not live in the UK.

The search for the aircraft is focusing on a location 20 miles (32km) North of Ilheus, where there are eyewitness reports that a light aircraft was flying extremely low and without lights, leading authorities to believe the aircraft loss power. Investigations are probing some reports of witnessing a plane crash, and there are unconfirmed rumours that wreckage has been found.

Brazil's Coast Guard, three Aero Star helicopters and Bahia state police are all participating in the search. The weather was good at the time and the flight crew hadn't reported any issues to ATC.