2 Small Planes Crash Off Florida Coast


Two small planes carrying a total of eight people crashed in separate incidents off the coast of Florida, authorities said. No survivors had been found by late Saturday.

A Piper Aztec carrying five people crashed off the coast of Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, officials said.

Authorities lost radar contact with the plane at 9:20 a.m. while it was on its way to the Bahamas, Coast Guard Petty Officer Jennifer Johnson said. A rescue helicopter spotted the debris about 17 miles east of Fort Lauderdale, Johnson said.

It was not immediately known what caused the crash. A search and rescue effort continued late Saturday.

Three others were believed dead after their small plane hit a blimp's wire tether and crashed off the Florida Keys, officials said.

The plane crashed late Friday night, and officials were sifting through wreckage Saturday and trying to identify the victims, said Monroe County sheriff's spokeswoman Becky Herrin.

Witnesses reported seeing the plane crash about two miles off the northern shore of Cudjoe Key, Herrin said.

The plane's wing hit the wire at about 4,000 feet - halfway between the ground and the blimp - then crashed in about two feet of water. The blimp does not appear to be damaged, Herrin said. A camera trained on the blimp captured the crash.

The blimp is used by the federal government to monitor suspected drug flights and other potentially harmful activity. The area surrounding it is restricted airspace, Herrin said.

The plane, a Cessna 182, is believed to have had three people on board, the Federal Aviation Administration said. It is believed to have been coming from Key West, but investigators do not know its intended destination, Herrin said.

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