4 Apr 2012

Guam Coastguard still searching for survivors from missing Palau plane

12:55 pm on 4 April 2012

The Guam division of the United States Coastguard is still searching for survivors from a Palau plane that went missing on Sunday.

The chief enforcement officer says the Cessna aircraft was carrying two Palau police officers, Earl Decherong and Willy Mays Towai, and was piloted by an American, Frank Ohlinger.

The Pacific Daily News reports that the plane was involved in the discovery of what's thought to have been an illegal Chinese fishing operation in which one fisherman was killed.

Lieutenant Richard Russell says the Coastguard and a flotilla of local boats has searched almost 17,000 square kilometres of ocean since Monday.

"At this time we are still very much looking for people. Going over the last transmissions it sounded like the pilot was very much in control of the airplane, was very calm, confident, he was discussing how fast he was going and from everything that we've reviewed it looks like he was trying to get his plane into the most optimal position he could to try to control its descent as it ran out of fuel."

Lieutenant Richard Russell says today's search should cover several thousand more square kilometres.