National Sea Rescue Institute spokesman Craig Lambinon said three vessels from Plettenberg Bay had been sent out to sea and had conducted a search for the plane near Robberg.

A search was under way late last night following reports that an aircraft had gone down near Plettenberg Bay.

The plane, which belongs to Italtile Ltd, was travelling between Queenstown and Plettenberg Bay with nine people on board, according to the Italtile company’s board of directors.

Italtile’s chief financial officer, Peter Swatton, said the plane had disappeared from radar at 4:31pm yesterday after it had apparently aborted a landing at Plettenberg Bay airport.

“There was no distress call, and nothing has been heard from the plane since,” Swatton said.

He said there two crew members and seven passengers on board.

The plane had taken off from Queenstown on a routine flight to Plettenberg Bay.

Italtile is based in Johannesburg but Swatton did not want to say where the passengers were from.

“We are in the process of getting the information to the relatives of the people on board,” he said.

Air Mercy Service spokesperson Vanessa Horn said last night that a call-out came via Emergency Medical Services.

“An Air Mercy Service helicopter will be sent out at first light to take part in the search,” she said.

National Sea Rescue Institute spokesman Craig Lambinon said three vessels from Plettenberg Bay had been sent out to sea and had conducted a search near Robberg.

Rescue teams later concentrated in the Robberg Nature Reserve where dense vegetation hampered the search. Lambinon said the plane had gone missing in thick fog.

“It is believed that witnesses on the shore have seen the aircraft near Wilderness and Knysna and that it was flying at a very low altitude. The plane is a PC 9 which is quite a sophisticated aircraft.

“It is believed to have flown from Queenstown to Plettenberg to pick up a tenth person.”

He said teams from Wilderness Search and Rescue, Metro EMS, Mountain Club of SA and the police had searched the shore in the area.

“The SA Air Force’s 35 Squadron has been asked to come out at first light … At this stage the search is in the area of Cape Seal Island,” Lambinon said. - Cape Times