Search crews locate plane that vanished while coming in for landing at RDU Sunday night

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UPDATE (AP): Two people were killed when a small plane crashed near a North Carolina airport, prompting an intensive overnight search of a nearby state park and temporarily halting arrivals and departures of commercial flights, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said Monday.

Sgt. Michael Baker reported the deaths at a news briefing, but he didn’t release the identities of the victims.

Airport officials issued a statement saying search crews found the missing plane around 10 a.m. Monday near a trail at William B. Umstead State Park. The statement offered no details about who may have been aboard the plane.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The plane that disappeared from radar while approaching Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Sunday night has been located by search crews, RDU officials confirmed.

According to a press release, search and rescue crews located the missing private aircraft at 10:02 a.m. near the Reedy Creek Multi-Use Trail at William B. Umstead State Park.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol and North Carolina State Parks are securing the scene and evaluating the site. The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified and next steps will be determined once the initial assessment is complete, the release said.

The park is officially closed to the public on Monday, according to RDU and park officials.

Commercial operations will remain normal at RDU.

Authorities said that a distress signal was sent and that a plane disappeared from radar near RDU Sunday night. A search for the aircraft got underway shortly after.

The incident involved a single-engine plane and closed the airport for nearly an hour, according to Raleigh police and RDU officials.

The incident began around 7:25 p.m. when a small plane approaching the airport from the east was lost on radar near Umstead Park, according to a news release from RDU.

Raleigh police said a distress signal was sent.

CBS 17 journalists on scene Sunday night saw search and rescue crews — including ambulances — along Ebenezer Church Road, which is a boundary for Umstead State Park.

The RDU statement, released at 8:31 p.m. on Sunday, said that the airport had since reopened.

Crystal Feldman, RDU spokeswoman, said that the airport had to be closed because airport fire units initially responded to the missing plane. Once the fire units returned, the airport reopened, which officials said was only 20 minutes later.

RDU officials said that the search was suspended around 2 a.m. Monday and then resumed at daylight.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement to CBS 17 on Monday that they “issued an Alert Notice (ALNOT) for a Piper PA-32 aircraft after air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight as it was approaching Runway 32 at Raleigh Durham International Airport at 7:40 p.m., [Sunday].”

Although more than a dozen emergency crews are assisting in the search, the location of the plane “will determine which agency will secure the site. Then, the National Transportation Safety Board will lead an investigation,” according to RDU.

A release said North Carolina State Highway Patrol helicopter “[was searching] for a heat signature from the ground, a signal typical of an aircraft crash landing.”

People are being asked to avoid the area around Umstead State Park while authorities conduct search and rescue operations.

CBS 17 will update this story as more information becomes available.

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