Weather affecting search for missing lightcraft duo

The Irish coastguard is assisting in the search.

The Irish coastguard is assisting in the search.

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Weather conditions have been affecting the search for a missing microlight aircraft and the two people onboard.

The North West Mountain Rescue Team will joined the search today.

The Irish Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter is also being drafted in to join in the search, and a second aircraft is also scouring the northern coastal areas.

James Instance, Duty Controller with UK Coastguard, which is co-ordinating the search and rescue operation, said today: “The weather has caused problems for the search operation. However we have drawn up an extensive search and rescue plan which will be put into action today.”

The aircraft was one of two to depart from City of Derry Airport bound for Scotland yesterday, but while the other microlight landed safely, the second failed to arrive.

At around 8.30pm last night Distress and Diversion based at Swanwick notified the UK Coastguard that a small microlight aircraft with two persons on board had been reported overdue.

The microlight was transiting the Northern Ireland coastline when it went missing.

Last night and in the early hours of this morning, the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Prestwick, the Irish Coastguard helicopter based at Dublin, Ballycastle, Coleraine, Stranraer, Portpatrick, Larne and Campbelltown Coastguard Rescue Teams, Larne RNLI inshore and all weather lifeboats, Red Bay inshore and all weather lifeboats and Portpatrick RNLI all weather lifeboats, were all involved in the search.

Ryan Gray, Senior Maritime Operations Officer at the UK Coastguard said: “UK Coastguard has also issued a Mayday relay broadcast in the area and several merchant shipping vessels have responded and are keeping a lookout for this aircraft. We may send further resources as the search widens.”

The PSNI and Police in Scotland have also been informed.

A spokesperson from City of Derry Airport has confirmed that it is working with partner emergency service agencies as part of the ongoing search operation.

A PSNI spokesman meanwhile said: “The PSNI are assisting in the searches along with other emergency services.”