Page last updated at 18:19 GMT, Sunday, 4 May 2008 19:19 UK

Search continues for Brazil plane

Map of Brazil

Rescue teams in Brazil are continuing their search for four British businessmen and two Brazilians who disappeared in a light aircraft.

Sean Woodhall, Ricky Every, Alan Kempson, Nigel Hodges and the two pilots were last heard of flying off the country's north-eastern coast.

The men were travelling from Salvador to Ilheus as part of a trip connected to a future housing development.

It is understood three of the four do not live in the UK.

The luxury property development was planned by Mr Woodhall's company, Worldwide Destinations.

The international marketing and development company, which is based in Spain, has a UK office in St Neots, Cambridgeshire and specialises in creating luxury developments across the world.

Michael Lynn, a friend and colleague of Mr Woodhall said everyone was hoping there would be a positive outcome.

"We have to stay positive, but it has been a long time now," he said.

Mr Lynn said Mr Every works for the Worldwide Destinations in Brazil and lives there.

I am obviously very worried and my thoughts are with their wives and families
Paul Hughes, colleague

Mr Kempson and Mr Hodges are both directors of a finance company called Diamond Lifestyle Holdings, based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

It is understood the company was potentially going to do some work with Worldwide Destinations.

Non-executive chairman Paul Hughes said: "All we know is that the plane is missing.

"I am obviously very worried and my thoughts are with their wives and families."

Mr Hughes said he had worked with Diamond chief executive Mr Kempson, who is 46 and lives in Spain, and finance director and company secretary Mr Hodges, who is 52 and lives in Somerset, for almost two years and they had become friends as well as colleagues.

The family of Mr Hodges said in a statement: "We remain positive and eagerly await news of Nigel's well-being and look forward to his safe return.

"We ask that you respect our privacy during this period."

No sign

BBC correspondent Tim Hirsch in Sao Paulo reports that the search is focusing on an area 20 miles (32km) north of Ilheus, where an eyewitness said that on Friday evebning they had seen a small plane flying unusually low and with its lights on.

This has led authorities to say the twin-engine Cessna 310 could have gone down after losing power.

The location also coincides with the area where air-traffic controllers last had contact with the pilots before dusk as the plane cruised over the Atlantic coast en route to Ilheus, according to the airline Aero Star.

The plane had taken off from Salvador, capital of Bahia state.

Ellen Duarte, business manager for Aero Star, said it made its final contact with the Ilheus control tower at 1743 local time (2143 BST) on Friday.

"The pilot said he was making a visual approach to the airport, and that was the last we heard," she said.

Brazil's coastguard and three Aero Star helicopters searched Saturday for signs of a crash, but found nothing.

Tim Hirsch said the area boasts some of Brazil's most beautiful coastline and is quite mountainous.

British property investors and developers are heading to Brazil in increasing numbers to take advantage of its growing economy and a boom in tourism.

A number of companies specialising in overseas property advertise Brazil as a hotspot for buyers looking for short-term profit and high rental yields, with many singling out the Bahia region for its potential.


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