SIX occupants of a private plane which crashed into the Mediterranean off the north-west of Corsica are recovering in hospital after a rescue operation.
They were rescued from the sea after six hours in three to four metre waves.
Their Cessna plane suffered motor failure over the Gulf of Porto shortly after taking off from the aerodrome at Tavaria in the south-west of the island yesterday afternoon, heading for Cannes.
The pilot radioed that he was going to try a forced landing in the sea and the plane disappeared from radar screens a few moments afterwards.
Both military and emergency services vehicles were mobilised, including two helicopters, a plane and a boat. A helicopter pilot said afterwards: “The rescue was hellish – at night-time with four metre waves.”
The occupants had managed to put on lifejackets and had got out of the plane, which sank shortly after landing in the sea. They then set off flares.
The security expert at Tavaria aerodrome said the pilot was experienced and was used to doing the trip to Cannes. However the expert said that he had suggested the group leave later, due to poor weather conditions, including strong winds. “They said one of them had to pick his granddaughter up from school so they preferred to get off. I wouldn’t have if it had been me.”