Search for downed aircraft in Juan de Fuca Strait suspended

UPDATE: The search for a missing pilot and his aircraft has been suspended, U.S. officials say.

The search for a small plane with one man aboard in the Juan de Fuca Strait was suspended at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, rescuers ran search patterns on the water and by air, scouring an area south of Victoria for any sign of the plane, which ran into trouble Tuesday.

"Suspending search efforts is always an extremely tough decision," Capt. Nathan Coulter, chief of Search and Rescue for the U.S. Coast Guard's 13th District, said in a statement. "This was an extensive search involving close coordination between numerous federal, state and local agencies."

A Canadian Coast Guard vessel and a search plane from Comox assisted in efforts that were concentrated in waters between Victoria and Port Angeles. The U.S. Coast Guard led the search.

The search began about 5 p.m. Tuesday when a pilot in a single-engine Cessna travelling from Ketchikan, Alaska to Port Angeles sent out a mayday call over Juan de Fuca Strait. The pilot described land formations he could see, and those were used to help define a search area.

American and Canadian coast guard vessels, U.S. military aircraft, a Cormorant helicopter and Buffalo aircraft from 19 wing Comox, and several civilian boaters assisted in the search. 

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