Microlight search operation: Two feared dead as aircraft debris found

Lifeboats in action.
Lifeboats in action.

Two people are feared dead after debris from a missing microlight aircraft was discovered in the sea off Glenarm yesterday afternoon (Friday).

The light aircraft, which was travelling from City of Derry Airport to Scotland, was reported missing on Thursday evening (June 9).

Larne RNLI launched their all-weather lifeboat and D class lifeboat on Thursday after the microlight was reported missing.

They were accompanied by an Atlantic 85 and all-weather lifeboat from Red Bay RNLI, along with an all-weather lifeboat from Portpatrick in Scotland.

The RNLI boats were joined by an Irish Coast Guard Helicopter and a rescue helicopter from Prestwick and local coastguard teams.

The initial search ended at 4am on Friday, before resuming later that morning.

Confirming that the debris is believed to be from the missing microlight, Inspector Michael McDonnell, of Ballycastle Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Our thoughts are with the families of those involved. Specialist officers are providing support to the families at this very difficult time.

“The PSNI will continue to assist in this search operation and we will investigate this incident in partnership with other agencies.

“I would appeal to anyone who may have any information which could help in any way, to contact police on the non-emergency number 101.”

Cllr Margaret Anne McKillop has praised the emergency services who are conducting the search operation. She said: “This latest development will certainly add to the anxiety of the family and friends of those who went missing on this aircraft.

“The discovery of aircraft debris will lead them to fear the worst and our thoughts are with them at this time.

“On behalf of the community, I would like to express our gratitude to the RLNI, the Irish coastguard and the Community Rescue Service who continue in their search to find the missing.

“As always they have acted with professionalism and dedication in a desperate situation and when conditions were against them.”

The search operation for the two missing passengers was called off on Friday evening due to poor visibility.

Rescue teams are set to meet again this morning to assess the situation.