Plane carrying 6 disappears over Lake Erie near Cleveland

CLEVELAND (AP) — U.S. Coast Guard crews searched Lake Erie on Friday for a plane carrying six people that disappeared overnight shortly after takeoff from a small Cleveland airport along the shore.

The Columbus-bound Cessna Citation 525 departed Burke Lakefront Airport late Thursday with three children and three adults aboard and vanished from radar about 2 miles over the lake. Why remains unclear.

Searchers had found no sign of any debris or the people aboard the plane as of Friday morning, the agency said.

A Coast Guard official said crews are in search-and-rescue mode, not recovery mode.

Capt. Michael Mullen says Friday that authorities have “faint hints” but no strong pulse from an emergency locating transmitter, a beacon that could help find the plane.

Mullen says snow squalls, higher seas and darkness made nighttime searching difficult. He says it would have been the pilot’s responsibility to determine whether it was safe to fly.

Weather prevented a boat search overnight, but a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and a Canadian air crew in a plane were being used. A ship also was headed from Detroit to help with the search.

The waters in the search area are about 50 feet deep, the Coast Guard said.

The plane was headed to Ohio State University Airport northwest of downtown Columbus. Cox said the plane is kept at a hangar at the airfield, but the six people aboard the aircraft aren’t affiliated with OSU. Their names weren’t released, pending notification of their families.

Petty Officer Joel Altman, a public affairs officer in Cleveland with the Ninth Coast Guard District, said he couldn’t immediately confirm whether the passengers were related or provide the ages of the children.

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