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A private Cessna plane crashed off the coast of Latvia on Sunday evening, Sweden’s rescue service said, after NATO scrambled jets to follow its erratic course.
The Austrian-registered Cessna 551 aircraft was flying from Jerez in southern Spain, from where it took off at 1256 GMT without a set destination, according to FlightRadar24 website.
It turned twice, at Paris and Cologne, before heading straight out over the Baltic, passing near the Swedish island of Gotland. At 1737 GMT it was listed on the flight tracker as rapidly losing speed and altitude.
“We’ve learned that the plane has crashed (in the ocean) north-west of the town of Ventspils in Latvia,” a spokesperson for Sweden’s rescue service said. “It has disappeared from the radar.”
A Lithuanian air force helicopter was dispatched to the crash site for search and rescue at neighbouring Latvia’s request, a Lithuanian air force spokesperson said. Spokespeople for the Latvian air traffic control and rescue services were not immediately available.
NATO fighter aircraft earlier took off to follow the plane, a Lithuanian Airforce spokesperson told Reuters. The Swedish rescue service said they had reported that no one was visible in the Cessna’s cockpit.
The fighter aircraft were from the NATO Baltic Air Police mission in Amari airfield in Estonia, the Lithuanian Airforce spokesperson said.
The mission in the airbase currently consists of four Eurofighter jets of the German Air Force, according to NATO. The spokesperson did not say how many jets there were or comment further.
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