Light aircraft crash off Kent coast

British and French emergency teams have responded to reports that a light aircraft has crashed into the English Channel. The American-registered plane carrying one person on board came down about 15 miles off Dungeness in Kent at around 2.30pm today.

A cross-Channel search and rescue operation has been launched involving both English and French teams, including a French helicopter and the Dungeness RNLI lifeboat. The alarm was raised after the single-engine light aircraft, which was headingfrom London to Le Touquet, was overdue.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said: 'A French helicopter has been searching for two hours. That will have to return shortly and that will be replaced by a search and rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham in Suffolk. The search is ongoing at the moment to find the pilot.'

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Search for pilot called off

Air accident investigators are trying to work out why a light aircraft crashed into the English Channel near Kent.