Coast Guard continues searching for missing man off American Samoa

Hawaii-Pacific Coast Guard News
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa – Coast Guard and local agencies continue to search for a man who went missing in a plane crash near Pago Pago Tuesday night.

Search efforts for 58-year-old Babar Suleman continued throughout the day and suspended Thursday night due to decreased visibility. The search resumed Friday morning and will continue throughout the day.

The Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu is coordinating search efforts with the HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, a patrol boat from the American Samoa Marine Patrol and the Tug Sa’ilele.

On-scene weather conditions are 7 to 10 feet seas, 15 to 20 mph winds. Visibility is approximately seven nautical miles with scattered clouds and rain showers.

Debris recovered from the crash includes: two survival suits, life jackets, Emergency Locator Transmitter, a seat, and heavily damaged sections of the fuselage.

This is the search area developed by watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu using the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System. We are currently searching for a man who went missing during a plane crash off American Samoa July 22, 2014. Watchstanders at the JRCC are using SAROPS to develop the best search area for locating Babar Suleman. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

This is the search area developed by watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu using the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Watchstanders are using a computer program called the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System to determine the best search area. The Hercules crew dropped a Self-locating Data Marker Buoy to calculate current drift, water temperature and sea conditions. That information is then used in the SAROPS to develop the optimal search area.

Coast Guard watchstanders at the JRCC received notification from the Regional Command Center in New Zealand that a Beechcraft Bonanza with two passengers aboard crashed into the water approximately one mile from shore. The RCC in New Zealand attained that information from the plane’s Emergency Locator Transmitter.

The total amount of area searched and hours expended are:

  • 3,396 square miles (1,799 square miles Friday, 1,597 square miles Thursday). The cumulative amount of square miles searched is equivalent to the area of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
  • Coast Guard and partner agency assets have been searching for a total of 63 hours.

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