Search and rescue efforts to resume at daybreak
A plane that departed from Florida last night crashed in waters about a quarter of a mile off Nirvana Beach, West Bay Street around 9:20 p.m., according to authorities, though they were unable to confirm up to midnight how many people were on board the aircraft or whether anyone had survived.
Shortly after Eyewitness News arrived on scene at least five defense force vessels, along with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter could be seen searching waters in the area.
Along West Bay Street, three fire trucks and an ambulance were on standby.
Addressing the media along the shoreline, Assistant Commissioner of Police Leamond Deleveaux said authorities had located the twin-engine aircraft during the search and rescue effort, but no survivors or bodies had been found.
“Investigations are continuing, [but] as you notice it is very dark at night, so tomorrow morning – first light – we will be conducting a full investigation and [seeking] to find out whether anyone is still alive or if persons may have perished in this aircraft,” he said as the beams of light from the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter canvassed the ocean.
The search and rescue effort was eventually suspended shortly after midnight, but Deleveaux said it will go on “as long as necessary; until persons, whether bodies or live persons are found”.
Asked why search and rescue efforts were being temporarily suspended, Deleveaux said, “As you aware [and] as you can see; firstly, we have to protect the safety of the persons who are conducting the search.
“As you know, the helicopter was out there for quite some time conducting an aerial search and so we will resume the search very early.”
Divers were unable to join the search last night, but are expected to do so early this morning, Eyewitness News understands.
Deleveaux was unable to provide details on the state of the aircraft, only saying “the aircraft was located; in fact, parts of the aircraft was located”.
He was also unable to say whether the aircraft logged a flight plan, but indicated that authorities understand the downed aircraft was en route to New Providence from Florida.
Dozens of onlookers gathered along the beachfront last night.
Some paced the shoreline, pointing the flashlight on their cellphones toward the ocean, though the effort proved fruitless.
As of 1 a.m. authorities were unable to provide more details on the crash.