Coast Guard suspends search for plane crash victims

2 bodies found after Learjet 35 crashed Tuesday

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Coast Guard on Thursday suspended its search efforts for two people who were aboard a Mexico-bound jet that crashed after taking off from a South Florida airport.

Crews searched overnight for the two missing people from the medical flight that had dropped off a patient at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Coast Guard officials said, but suspended the search Thursday evening.

"The United States Coast Guard and our partners express the deepest condolences to the friends and families who lost loved ones in this tragic incident," said Capt. Todd Lutes. "The Coast Guard will continue to assist the National Transportation Safety Board in their investigative efforts."

The Learjet 35 crashed Tuesday night into the ocean about a mile offshore, and authorities have recovered the bodies of two other people from the wreckage.

The search has covered 4,000 square miles so far, and divers were planning to investigate an object that may be a sunken piece of the wreckage, Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma said. More than 1,000 pounds of debris was recovered.

"The aircraft weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000 pounds, so we believe there is a lot more of it out there somewhere," added Chief Petty Ofc. Ryan Doss.

The search will continue until rescuers determine that the chances of survival are minimal, Somma said.

"At this time, we're not there yet," he said.

Two pilots, a doctor and a nurse were on the plane. They were flying back to Cozumel, Mexico, when the pilot reported an engine failure and attempted to return to the airport.

LISTEN: Plane crash audio

Mexico's Transportation Department has identified the pilots as Jose Hiram Galvan de la O. and Josue Buendía Moreno and the passengers as Fernando Senties Nieto and Mariana Gonzalez Isunza.

Moreno was identified as one of bodies that was found. It was not immediately clear which other body was found.

The company that runs the medical transport planes said the flight crew had picked up a patient in Costa Rica.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Federal Aviation Administration officials had warned of potential problems found in the Learjet 35 in June.

According to the special bulletin, maintenance workers found cracks in the control column on Learjet Model 35A (C-21A) airplanes. Five airplanes were inspected and all five had cracks in the area at the base of the column where it attaches to the floor. However, the concern was not deemed dangerous enough to warrant a further directive, according to the bulletin.

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