A small plane carrying two crew members and 14 passengers crashed into the Caribbean Sea on Friday after taking off from the Venezuelan archipelago of Los Roques, but the fate of those on board remains unknown, a government official announced, Spain's EFE news agency reported.
The head of Civil Protection, General Antonio Rivero, told the Globovision network that it is not yet known whether the aircraft was able to land safely on the water after sending out an emergency call.
Search-and-rescue helicopters and boats raced to where the aircraft apparently crashed some 10 km from the archipelago, he said.
According to the Venezuelan media, the small plane lost contact with the control tower shortly after the crew radioed that it had in-flight problems.
The plane had taken off minutes before from the airport on Gran Roque, the biggest island in the archipelago, which is one of Venezuela's main tourist attractions, some 100 km north of Caracas.