24 May 2002

Light plane carrying five disappears in Tuamotu in French Polynesia

2:46 pm on 24 May 2002

Aviation officials in French Polynesia say a Piper Seneca plane carrying five people has gone missing in the Pacific.

They say the plane took off from Kaukura atoll early today and failed to arrive as scheduled in Makemo in the Tuamotu archipelago.

As well as the pilot, the plane was carrying four prominent local politicians, on an election campaign.

They are the President of the pro-autonomy Fetia Api, Boris Leontieff, and party members Lucien Kimitete, who is also the advisor to the Mayor of Nuku Hiva and the Marquesas, and candidates for the French Polynesia legislature, Arsene Tuairau, and Fersine Beyssere.

Civil aviation authorities have mounted a search for the plane.