24 Oct 2014

Private search begins for man missing off American Samoa coast

7:48 pm on 24 October 2014

An underwater search by a private company hired by the family of a father and son whose small plane crashed off the coast of American Samoa three months ago has begun.

The plane, piloted by 17-year old Haris Suleman, crashed into the ocean shortly after it took off from Pago Pago Airport.

Mr Suleman's body was recovered, but his father Babar Suleman, is still missing and is presumed dead.

Cyrus Suleman, brother of 17-year-old pilot Haris Suleman about to toss a wreath at sea, in honor of his brother and still missing father, Babar Suleman.

A memorial service was held for the Sulemans in July. Photo: RNZI / Monica Miller

The off-island team is using sonar scanners and a remotely operated vehicle to explore the ocean floor for any signs of the plane.

A daughter of Babar Suleman, Hiba, is in American Samoa for the search.

"They said, you know, they have some points of interest that they'd like to send down the RV, the remote operated vehicle, to check out. Nothing has really jumped out yet, but they're hoping one of those anomalies will pan out."

Hiba Suleman.