Monday, July 19, 1999 Published at 03:44 GMT 04:44 UK
Hope dies for JFK Jnr
Rory Kennedy (second from right) and her fiance at Hyannisport
After two days searching and hoping for a miracle, the US Coast Guard has admitted John F Kennedy, his wife and sister-in-law are almost certainly dead.
Rear Admiral Richard Larrabee of the US Coast Guard said: "We are going to shift from our focus on search and rescue to search and recovery."
"I have spent some very painful moments with the families tonight," Admiral Larrabee added.
Mr Kennedy and his wife Carolyn had been travelling to the family home at Hyannisport for the wedding of a cousin Rory - the daughter of the late Senator Robert F Kennedy - when the aircraft disappeared.
The wedding, due to take place on Saturday before 275 guests, has been postponed.
In an address to the nation, President Clinton called on Americans to pray for Mr Kennedy, his wife and her sister Lauren Bessette, who was also onboard the aircraft.
He was speaking at the White House after a weekend break at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.
An investigation into a "very brief" electronic transmission, or "ping", from what was thought to be an emergency locator beacon, was stopped after the Coast Guard discovered it was a false alarm.
A research vessel from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was diverted from its search duties to investigate the transmission.
Small pieces of wreckage and luggage from the aircraft were found on a Massachusetts beach.
The disappearance of Mr Kennedy - son of the assassinated US president - has caused a deep sense of shock across the United States.
In New York a steady stream of people has been taking flowers and candles to his home in downtown Manhattan.
Mr Kennedy, 38, a law graduate, was born just two months before his father's inauguration as the 35th US president.
He never entered politics, choosing instead to observe via the pages of his glossy political magazine George - subtitled "not just politics as usual".
People magazine once labelled him "the sexiest man alive".
Radar footage showed the plane - a single-engine Piper Saratoga II HP - was making a normal descent towards the island when it plunged from 2,200ft to 1,300ft in just 12 seconds, before disappearing from radar screens.