On Monday, Lithuania's rescue services are to decide whether to continue search of a plane that went missing on Saturday over the Baltic Sea.
© Reuters/Scanpix

Throughout Sunday, both Lithuania's military and Latvia's rescue services were looking for the An-2 aircraft that disappeared while crossing the Baltic Sea from Sweden to Klaipėda in Lithuania.

Only two experienced pilots, Adolfas Mačiulis and Alvydas Selmistraitis, were aboard the plane that last contacted ground at 4:16 PM on Saturday. The aircraft's last known location was less than 180km to its destination at the altitude of 40,000ft.

According to a spokesman of Lithuania's civil aviation authority, it is not known what happened to the plane. It is likely, however, to have drowned in the Baltic Sea.

The Lithuanian navy and air force were looking for the missing plane throughout Sunday.

"Water temperature is 7 degrees. A person can survive in water at this temperature depending on the equipment they have. From what we know, the crew on the aircraft had life jackets, hydrocostumes and a lifeboat. It is hard to tell how long they could last," said Antanas Brencius, spokesman for the Lithuanian Navy.

"If we decide to continue with the search operation, it is hard to tell how purposeful it will be, because the area is huge," Bencius told LRT radio on Monday morning. "We should now be searching not just in Latvia's [territorial waters], but further north as well.

"The search area is expanding every hour. We started in a smaller patch, but wind could have taken the objects north… Much time has passed, we might as well start combing half the Baltic Sea."

He says the rescue operation was suspended on Sunday due to weather conditions. Moreover, the search teams finished inspecting the entire area where the plane could have crashed. No signs the plane or the crash have been spotted, Brencius says.

Alvydas Šumskas, head of the civil aviation authority, says that even if rescuers locate the crash site of the plane, there is no point in trying to recover it. "These types of planes are not equipped with black boxes. Just a simple manograph that records altitude. It won't contribute anything to an investigation into what happened."

According to Šumskas, this is the first case of a plane going missing over the Baltic Sea in Lithuania's aviation history.

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