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Aircraft crash bodies recovered

18 August 08 17:59 GMT

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The bodies of five people killed in an aircraft crash have been recovered from the wreckage.

A Cessna 402 aircraft carrying two men and two women and a solo-piloted small aircraft collided above Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire on Sunday.

One body, believed to be that of the small aircraft pilot, was found by rescue crews overnight near Coombe Abbey, two miles from Coventry Airport.

Teams searching Brandon Wood later found the other four bodies.

Police said the names of those killed in the crash were not being released at this stage.

'Big bang'

Their families laid flowers at the edge of Brandon Wood earlier.

The bodies of the four people who were in the Cessna are expected to be taken from the crash scene to University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire on Monday evening.

The other was recovered earlier.

Police said they were not treating the crash as suspicious.

An investigation also involving the fire service, the RAF and the Air Accident Investigation Branch has begun into the collision.

All four people on board the Cessna were employees of specialist survey company Reconnaissance Ventures Ltd (RVL), based at Coventry airport.

The company used the aircraft to carry out survey work for government agencies and private firms.

The smaller aircraft was described by eyewitnesses as looking like a "kit plane".

'Came down suddenly'

Eyewitnesses who saw the crash, which happened at about 1130 BST on Sunday, described how the pilot of the Cessna tried to steer the aircraft to safety.

Malcolm Collins, of Daventry, Northamptonshire, who had been at Coombe Abbey with his wife and children, said: "When it first happened it looked like the plane would go straight down, but the pilot recovered it and seemed to be in control of it.

"Then it tipped and came down suddenly."

He said it looked like the smaller aircraft had "completed disintegrated in a big bang".

Emergency services had difficulty finding the crash scene in dense woodland and needed guidance from the air.

Debris spread

Commander Mick Leach, of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the debris had been spread over a wide area.

Police urged any witnesses to contact them.

Det Supt Adrian McGee said: "We would like to thank everyone who has come forward with witness accounts so far.

"We are very grateful for their assistance and will be contacting them later today."

Colin Dennis, the managing director of RVL, said the Cessna was on a "perfectly normal" approach to Coventry Airport at the time of the collision.

He said he had been in touch with the families of the victims, who he said were coping "as you would expect". He said it was still unclear which employee was flying the Cessna, a plane which was about 15 years old and had recently been refitted.

Mr Dennis added that the aircraft was "better than new" after its makeover and had been fitted with new equipment.

Paul Harwood, from Coventry airport, said the deaths had affected everyone there.

He said: "We're a small community.

"They've been around for a long time. People move around airport circles and they are known to us all."

Coventry City Council said Coombe Country Park would be shut to the public "until further notice".

A council spokesperson said: "The city council passes on its condolences to all families and friends of all those involved."

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