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November 20, 2006

Plane vanishes off St Vincent

Monday Nov 20, 2006 – 10:45 am

A massive search and rescue operation is underway in St Vincent and the Grenadines for a missing SVG Air aircraft which disappeared from radar last night on approach to the ET Joshua Airport with two people on board.

The plane which had just arrived in Canouan from Martinique at 6:40 pm departed at 6:45 pm for ET Joshua Airport on the mainland when it lost contact with the Control Tower around 6:55 pm.

The pilot has been identified as Dominic Gonsalves, one of the owners of SVG Air, and the other is a young man who is an employee of another airline whose name has not been released.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves told a televised session of parliament this morning that aircraft from the Barbados-based Regional Security System (RSS) and the French territories have joined the Vincentian coastguard in the search around Bequia where the plane was last believed to be located. Calls of assistance have also been placed to Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, and the US Embassy in Barbados for its patrol vessel in the Caribbean to provide search and rescue assistance.

The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Organisation has been advised and an investigation is to be launched. The Prime Minister said three of the areas would be the circumstances surrounding the aircraft “coming out of the sky”, the response by the Control Tower, and the efficiency with which the search and rescue operation was conducted.