Hijacked seaplane in rescue off Florida

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The Independent US

United States Coast Guards pulled nine survivors from the rough waters of the Florida Straits last night, after a sea plane with at least 14 people on board was hijacked on take-off from Cuba and went down in international waters. One body was also believed to have been retrieved.

United States Coast Guards pulled nine survivors from the rough waters of the Florida Straits last night, after a sea plane with at least 14 people on board was hijacked on take-off from Cuba and went down in international waters. One body was also believed to have been retrieved.

The Russian-made Antonov AN-2 Colt took off from Pinar del Rio, Cuba, and went down about 90 miles southwest of Key West and 75 miles northwest of Havana, US officials said.

The area is southwest of the Marquesas, a group of rocky, uninhabited islands stretching 15 to 20 miles west of Key West, Petty Officer Steven Carriere said at the Coast Guard station in Key West.

"Apparently it was hijacked, and the pilot indicated they only had a small amount of fuel," said Lauren Gail Stover, associate director of Miami-Dade County Aviation Department. Between 14 and 16 people were on board, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.

The Coast Guard sent two planes, a helicopter and a cutter to the scene.

"The water's very warm, and that really extends your ability to stay alive. That's why we're extending so many assets," Coast Guard Commander Jim McPherson said. The plane disappeared from US radar shortly before 11 am local time.

The long-range, single-engine bush plane can be used for passenger flights, crop-dusting and forest fire suppression. Air traffic control in Havana notified the air traffic control centre in Miami at 8.45am local time that an aircraft was being hijacked.

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