East London – A major search and rescue mission is under way along the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape, after a light aircraft and its two occupants went missing on Wednesday afternoon.
The plane, a green and white Savanna two-seater light aircraft, was being flown by John Waterson of Savannah Africa, which sells light aircraft.
According to posts on social media, Waterson, who had a passenger with him, had landed at Morgans Bay at around 14:00 and then headed back towards his private runway at the Gonubie Brick Fields.
An eyewitness reportedly saw the aircraft over the Bulugha area at around 15:30 on Wednesday, heading towards Gonubie, before it turned around and headed back towards Morgan Bay.
Calls for assistance have been posted on numerous pages and groups on Facebook. Messages, asking people to be on the lookout for the plane and Waterson, have also circulated on WhatsApp.
"People driving around/walking on farms, etc, please be on the lookout, not necessarily just on the coast, inland as well, for the aircraft. Weather is preventing most aircraft from searching inland. Thank you for all the support," reads a post on Wild Coast South Africa.
Eastern Cape health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo confirmed that a search was in progress.
"This morning an Aeromed 1 EMS helicopter is searching the Gonubie area. We have rescue crews on the ground who are on alert and on standby," he said.
Additional searches are being conducted by the SAPS airwing in the Morgan Bay and Kei Mouth areas, along with searches by police station personnel on the ground.
The aircraft has not yet been found.