A frantic search is underway for a plane that disappeared from radar with three people onboard while on the way to pick up a patient.
The fixed-wing plane was on its way from Maui to Waimea Big Island in Hawaii when it vanished at 9.30pm on Thursday.
“Global Medical Response can confirm that one of our Hawaii Life Flight emergency fixed-wing airplanes based in Maui went off radar while en route to pick up a patient in Waimea, Big Island,” the plane’s company said in a statement.
“We are in the process of reaching out to their families.”
No patients were on the plane at the time as the crew was on the way to pick up someone needing assistance.
Aircraft controllers lost all communications with the plane at around 9.30 pm.
The plane was last spotted 17 miles south of Hana.
The Coast Guard sent boats, helicopters, and cargo planes to the area, hoping to find the missing aircraft.
Hawaii Governor Josh Green has issued an emergency proclamation, adding state supplies to the search.
A debris field was located on Friday 16 miles south of Hana but it is not yet confirmed whether the debris is from the missing plane.
“One of the @uscg aircraft reported seeing a sheen in the search area,” the Coast Guard’s Hawaii sector announced.
“A USCG patrol boat recovered debris from the area with no confirmation that it is from the aircraft. Coast Guard search teams continue in the search.”
According to EMS1, the area where the plane was last detected is known for fast winds and choppy water conditions.
Planes are a large part of the Hawaiian medical infrastructure.
Smaller islands rely on planes to transport patients with more serious conditions to areas with more supplies.
“We have to provide services to all the people of Hawaii if they get so sick in a place where they don’t have access to the care they need and have to come over here to Oahu,” Green said to the Star Advertiser.
Normally 10 to 15 transfers are made each day.
Governor Green was an emergency room physician in Hawaii’s Big Island before becoming governor.
His emergency proclamation allows Hawaii to supplement its medical aircraft capacity with planes and flight crews from other states after the disappearance of the life flight plane.
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