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Mon, Apr 22, 2013

Sao Tome, Africa Aviation Officials Slow To Search For U.S. Pilot, Family Says

Waited 24 Hours Before Beginning To Search For His Airplane Off The West African Coast

The family of a U.S. missionary pilot who went missing off the West African coast earlier this month says that authorities were slow to begin a search for Jerry Krause, but civil aviation officials for the island nation said that the coast guard was alerted about the missing Beech 1900C about two hours after contact was lost with the plane and began a search that night.

Krause, a missionary from Waseca, MN, was flying from South Africa to Mali, wish a fuel stop scheduled in Sao Tome when he encountered tropical storm conditions on his route of flight. The Sao Tome control tower reportedly lost contact with Krause while he was on approach to the airport about 1613 GMT, and the president of the Air Accident Investigation Commission at Sao Tome's National Civil Aviation Institute said that the coast guard received an alert from the control tower about 6:00 pm local time. It was reportedly already dark by that hour, but the coast guard says it sent a out a search vessel on Krause's route of flight. It says it found no evidence of any wreckage or even a fuel sheen on the water. The coast guard says it searched Monday-Wednesday following the plane's disappearance on Sunday, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Krause's family tells a different story. His daughter Jessica said that the plane was not reported missing until Monday afternoon about 3:00 pm, and that was because her mother had called the U.S. Embassy in Mali. Jessica Krause said the search did not begin until Monday afternoon.

Still, Krause's family says it is hopeful that Jerry Krause is still alive, saying on a website they have established that the lack of wreckage of the airplane or any ELT transmissions indicate that it is possible that the plane didn't crash. The website postulates the Krause may have been kidnapped by drug traffickers or warlords, though no hard evidence exists to support those claims.

Krauses family has filed a missing persons report in the U.S. so that the U.S. DOT can investigate the incident.

(Beech 1900 pictured in file photo)



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