Passengers swim ashore as plane crashes into sea near Shoreham

Two people on board a light aircraft have swum safely to shore after their plane crashed into the sea off Shoreham, West Sussex.

The crash happened at around 3.50pm on Thursday afternoon.

Jim Barrow, 48, was on his way home from work when he saw a rescue helicopter arrive at the scene.

He said: "It's not the kind of place you normally see a helicopter landing so I went round to have a look.

"One guy, who I assume was the pilot, was soaked to the skin but he was standing up and talking on the phone so he looked OK.

"We're used to seeing planes fly over but not like that."

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "Two people are reported to have escaped from the aircraft, believed to be a Cessna.

"They swam ashore after the plane came down quite close to the beach and are thought to be uninjured at this time."

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "The UK Coastguard received multiple 999 calls at approximately 3.50pm today reporting that a small plane with two people on board had ditched into the water off Shoreham.

"The Shoreham Coastguard Rescue Team and RNLI lifeboat were immediately tasked, along with the coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Lee-on-Solent.

"Thankfully both individuals are now ashore safe and well and in the care of Sussex Police and the South East Ambulance Service."

The RNLI confirmed on Twitter that a lifeboat had been launched but that there were no casualties.

Shoreham is home to Brighton City Airport, used by many light aircraft and flying schools.

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