• Kyodo News


Bad weather hampered the search Thursday in Hokkaido for a missing single-engine plane with two men aboard.

The Cessna TU206G, registered with Aichi Prefecture-based Nakanihon Air Service Co., disappeared from radar around 10:40 a.m. Wednesday while flying at an altitude of about 670 meters over the southern part of the Oshima Peninsula, according to the transport ministry.

Several residents in the town of Shiriuchi in southern Hokkaido reported witnessing a small whitish plane flying low over the town shortly after 11 a.m., police said, adding that one reported hearing a hard thud after seeing a small aircraft.

The incident prompted search and rescue operations by police and Air Self-Defense Force personnel but their search Wednesday ended without any clue. It resumed Thursday morning but was hampered by the weather, they said.

The Cessna was piloted by Isao Hata, 46, with photographer Shoji Furuta, 60, as the sole passenger, according to Nakanihon and the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry. Both are employees of the aircraft service operator, which is based in Aichi Prefecture.

Loaded with equipment to take aerial photos, the plane left Niigata airport at 8:49 a.m. Wednesday with enough fuel to fly for 5 1/2 hours, and was expected to arrive at Okadama airport in Sapporo before 1 p.m.

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