German businessman named as owner of jet that crashed in Baltic Sea off Latvia

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A private jet that crashed into the Baltic Sea off Latvia after flying half way across Europe from Spain without responding to controllers’ calls belonged to German businessman Karl-Peter Griesemann, his company, Quick Air, said on Monday.

The jet, an Austria-registered Cessna 551, left Jerez in southern Spain on Sunday afternoon, turning at Paris and Cologne before flying straight out to the Baltic Sea, where it spiraled into the water east of Gotland, flight tracking data showed.

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“I can confirm that it was the private jet of our owner, Karl-Peter Griesemann,” said a spokesperson for Quick Air, an air charter company based in Cologne.

He declined to confirm a report in Cologne newspaper Express that Griesemann was the pilot and that he was accompanied by his wife, daughter, and his daughter’s boyfriend.

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

Aircraft from several countries and a passenger ferry headed to the crash site on Sunday evening to aid in the rescue operation.

A wreck, a concentrated waste patch and an oil-like slick been spotted near the crash site, Latvian search and rescue head Peteris Subbota told Latvian television, adding that no had been found.

German and Danish warplanes were sent up to observe the aircraft as it flew blind over northern Europe on Sunday afternoon but were unable to spot anybody on board.

Griesemann has been a prominent figure in Cologne, the largest city in western Germany, playing a role in the deeply Catholic city’s annual carnival celebrations.

Swedish search and rescue operation leader Lars Antonsson told AFP that the plane flew relatively steadily until it neared the Latvian coast, when it rapidly lost altitude.

It crashed “when it ran out of fuel”, Antonsson said.

The nationalities of the four on board were not immediately known.

“Rescue teams with boats and helicopters from Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden are working at the crash site”, the Latvian aviation agency said.

“No human remains have been found”, Sweden’s Antonsson added.

It is not known what caused the plane to fly off course.

“We have no explanation at all, we can only speculate” about what happened “but they were clearly incapacitated on board”, Antonsson said.

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