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Family feared dead as 'ghost' plane mysteriously crashes into ocean

A search and rescue is underway after a private plane, supposedly carrying a family, crashed into the ocean after an erratic flight that led to NATO fighter jets being deployed.

On Sunday, a private plane took off from Jerez in southern Spain without a set destination, Reuters reported. However, the plane was meant to land in Cologne, Germany, Flight Radar said.

The Austrian-registered Cessna 551 aircraft turned twice, at Paris and Cologne and then headed straight over the Baltic Sea.

Pictured in this generic file photo is a Cessna plane.
A private plane crashed off the coast of Latvia on Sunday. Source: Getty Images, file

The aircraft passed the Swedish island of Gotland and then started losing speed and altitude rapidly. The plane then eventually crashed off the coast of Latvia.

"We've learned that the plane has crashed (in the ocean) northwest of the town of Ventspils in Latvia," a spokesperson for Sweden's rescue service said.

"It has disappeared from the radar."

Flight Radar said the pilot of the Cessna plane did not answer air traffic control calls and the aircraft continued to fly on autopilot before the crash.

NATO jets track rogue plane

An official from the Swedish Maritime Administration said before the aircraft crashed, German and Danish warplanes were sent out to inspect it as it passed through those countries' airspace.

However, both warplanes were unable to make contact with the private plane.

"They could not see anyone in the cockpit," Johan Wahlstrom of the Swedish Maritime Administration said according to Reuters.

German publication DW said if confirmed, this would be the sixth time a so-called ghost plane — where those on board were incapacitated — has crashed since 1980.

A Flight Radar map showing the route of the plane that crashed near Latvia. Source: Flight Radar via Reuters
NATO planes tried making contact with the private plane before the crash near Latvia. Source: Flight Radar via Reuters

Ships from Latvia's navy were headed to the scene of the crash and a Lithuanian air force helicopter was also dispatched to the crash site for search and rescue.

A Swedish search and rescue plane was also at the crash site. Debris from the plane and an oil spill have been found at the site, Swedish media reports said.

Mystery surrounds passengers on private plane

There have been reports four people were on board the plane at the time of the crash.

German newspaper Bild reported that the plane was carrying the pilot, a man, a woman, and a daughter, without sourcing the information.

No remains have been found, Agence France-Presse confirmed. No further information relating to the victims has been released.

With Associated Press

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