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Wreckage Found After Small Plane Disappears Near Raleigh-Durham Airport


Updated 11:20 a.m.

RALEIGH — Ground crews found wreckage Monday during a search for a small plane that disappeared near a busy North Carolina airport, authorities said.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport officials issued a statement that searchers found what they believe is the aircraft that went missing Sunday night while approaching one of the airport runways. They offered no other details about who may have been aboard.

"According to incident command, ground crews have located what they believe to be the missing aircraft," the statement said.

Rescuers from at least a dozen state and local agencies spent the night searching in and around William B. Umstead State Park, an approximately 6,000-acre (2,400-hectare) wooded expanse bounded by an interstate, the airport and a state highway.

The Federal Aviation Administration said radar lost track of the Piper PA32 at about 7:25 p.m. Sunday as it approached Runway 32, the smallest of three landing strips and perpendicular to what the airport considers its primary runway.

The FAA website said the single-engine plane typically has around six seats. Airport spokeswoman Crystal Feldman could not say how many people were aboard the private aircraft.

Air operations were halted for about 20 minutes Sunday night as firefighting and rescue units rushed to the wooded area, but the plane could not be located. That caused a number of commercial flights into the airport to be delayed or diverted until regular operations resumed.