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Saturday 25.01.2020 | Name days: Sigurds, Zigurds

No trace of Lithuanian aircraft gone missing above Baltic Sea

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe Lithuanian civil aircraft An-2 that went missing over the Baltic Sea on Saturday has not been found until Monday morning.

«If we decide to continue with the search operation, it is hard to tell how purposeful it will be, because the area is huge,» Antanas Brencius, spokesman for the Lithuanian Navy, said to LRT radio on Monday morning. «We should now be searching not just in Latvia’s [territorial waters], but further north as well.»

«The search area is expanding every hour. We started in a smaller patch, but wind could have taken the objects north… Much time has passed, we might as well start combing half the Baltic Sea,» Brencius added.

Pilots did not lack experience

At 10:02, 17 May, Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre of the Latvian Naval Coast Guard Service received a request for help from their colleagues in Klaipeda in order to search for an aircraft that went missing on its way from Sweden to Latvia. A few minutes after receiving the request, Latvian rescuers gave instructions to a Latvian Air Force helicopter to head out for the designated search and rescue region in the Baltic Sea.

According to rescuers’ information, the missing An-2 aircraft, which had two people on board, could be within Latvia’s search sector. Latvian armed forces’ Mi-17 helicopter, which has been equipped specifically for search and rescue operations, has begun its duty in the designated region.

Latvian armed forces will continue supporting Lithuania’s led search and rescue operation, as mentioned in the report from National Armed Forces.

Lithuania has turned to Latvia because, «wind speed and general direction have most likely moved the object close to the search area under Latvia’s watch,» – said Lithuanian Naval Force spokesperson Antanas Brencius.

«We don’t even know if the aircraft crashed into the sea. We do, however, expect a happy end to this story. Some debris or oil spill would be invaluable for the search. We would know for certain whether or not the plane has crashed. Then we would be able to narrow down the search area, because it is enormous at the moment,» – Delfi.lt quotes Brencius.

The aircraft owned by Lithuanian agricultural aviation company Klaipedos Avialinijos was on its way from the Swedish city of Gothenburg, as told to the media by deputy director of Lithuanian Civil Aviation Administration Alvids Šumsks. There were two pilots, no passengers.

Aircraft of this company perform the spraying of chemicals over agricultural fields.

Pilots that were in charge of the missing aircraft are some of the most experienced pilots of this class of aircraft, noted Šumsks.

The aircraft was above Lithuanian air space on Saturday. That’s where all communications with it went down and the aircraft was declared missing.

The Lithuanian company bought this 1981-manufactured Russian aircraft in Sweden. Pilots were supposed to deliver it to Lithuania. Pilots Adolfs Maculis and Alvids Selmistraitis had 40 years of experience in piloting aircraft, as confirmed by Director of Klaipedos Avialinijos Viktors Šišņauskis.

«I don’t know whether or not the aircraft has crashed or landed. I believe both pilots are alive. I think they were forced to land the aircraft out in the sea. I know that aircraft drown, but I hope both pilots managed to get out. They have rafts; they are professionals. Rescuers do all they can to rescue them. They have to find them; their families are waiting for their men. I don’t want to think about the worst possible scenario,» – said Šišņauskis.

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