It is unclear what caused the Pilatus PC-12 single engine airplane to crash (Picture: EPA)
Eight people are thought to have died after a small plane crashed off North Carolina.
One body has been found and identified but hopes are fading that there will be any survivors.
The plane is thought to have careered into the Atlantic Ocean off the Outer Banks barrier islands on Sunday, but it is unclear what caused the crash.
Explaining that the remains of one person had been recovered, Carteret County sheriff Asa Buck declined to release their identity on Monday afternoon.
He said: ‘We have no indication that anyone survived the crash.’
Mr Buck also refused or provide details about the other people on board, including their ages, ‘out of respect for the families’. Other reports suggest four teenagers and a businessman are among the victims.
But he did say most of the family members of the plane’s passengers live in Carteret, a coastal county of nearly 70,000 people.
The crash happened near Drum Inlet, off the North Carolina coast (Picture: Google Maps)
Search crews have identified three debris fields, which have been moving farther off shore, but are yet to find the main body of the plane.
US Coast Guard captain Matthew J Baer said that multiple vessels from various organisations are continuing the search.
In a tweet on Monday night, the Coast Guard said a cutter would remain on the scene overnight.
He explained: ‘We’ve got an all-hands-on-deck event going on here.
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‘And we want the citizens of Carteret County and eastern North Carolina to know that your Coast Guard is out there doing our absolute best alongside our partners.’
The Coast Guard said that it received a report of a possible downed aircraft about four miles east of Drum Inlet from an air traffic controller on Sunday.
The reported that the aircraft was behaving erratically on radar, then disappeared from the screen.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the single-engine Pilatus PC-12/47 crashed into the water approximately 18 miles northeast of Michael J Smith Field in Beaufort, North Carolina, at about 2pm on Sunday.
A preliminary accident notification on the FAA’s website suggested that the aircraft ‘crashed into water under unknown circumstances’.
‘Our prayers and deep concerns go to the families and loved ones of the passengers’, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tweeted on Monday afternoon.
‘We’re grateful for the people in our state and local agencies who are supporting the efforts of the Coast Guard and other first responders.’
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
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