The Airliner carrying 88 people on board plunged into the Pacific Ocean north of Los Angeles at about 4:30 p.m. local time Monday.
At a Tuesday morning news conference Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thomas Collins said,”This is still a search for human lives. As we continue to search, our minds are on the mission but are hearts are with the families.”
Rescuers searched all Monday night through the oil slick and debris field ten miles off Point Mugu but found no survivors. Four bodies – an infant, a man and two women–were recovered and investigators have reported hearing a ping signal that could be the cockpit voice recorder.
The crashed Alaska Airliner was a Boeing MD-83 jet built in 1992. The airplane had logged almost 26,000 hours in flight and had experienced more than 14,000 landings.
Flight 261, bound for San Francisco from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, was diverted to Los Angeles International Airport for an emergency landing when the pilot reported mechanical problems.
Alaska Airlines spokesman Jack Evans confirmed the pilot radioed he was having trouble with the stabilizers that keep the plane flying level. The pilot asked for permission to make an emergency stop in Los Angeles just minutes before the plane suddenly nose-dived into the ocean.
The plane crashed about 40 miles northwest of the airport. A team from the National Transportation Safety Board has arrived on the scene from Washington to review information on the accident..
Alaska Airlines, the 10th largest U.S. carrier, said Monday’s crash was its third fatal accident since 1971. The NTSB is scheduled to hold a news conference at 3pm EST.