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Search suspended in mid-air plane crash

May 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Coast Guard on Tuesday afternoon suspended the search for survivors of a mid-air plane collision off the coast of Long Beach.On Tuesday morning, the Coast Guard said there was a possibility of survivors, but the search was suspended by afternoon after crews searched about 160 square miles of the ocean.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department continues with its underwater search and recovery efforts.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the search efforts were launched when a pilot reported seeing two planes collide at about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Police believe three people were involved in the crash, but there may be more people.

A spokesman for the FAA said both planes flew out of Long Beach Airport. One of the planes was a single-engine Cessna carrying a flight instructor and a student pilot.

The second plane was a twin-engine airplane, but there is no word how many people were on board.

Search and rescue teams worked throughout the night and recovered debris from the crash, including a plane's landing gear.

The Coast Guard dealt with a large debris field, about 10 miles by 20 miles long, and due to ocean currents, it was getting larger.

"At this point, we have recovered a lot of debris, but no indications of survivors at this point," said Capt. Paul Wiedenhoeft from the U.S. Coast Guard.

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