A small U.S. private plane with an unresponsive pilot crashed off the east coast of Jamaica on Friday after veering far off its course toward southwest Florida and triggering a U.S. security alert that prompted a fighter jet escort.
Search and rescue teams, including a military plane and a helicopter, were despatched to the crash site about 14 miles (22 km) north of the tourist town of Port Antonio, Jamaica's Civil Aviation Authority said.
The United States Coast Guard also joined the search, the Jamaica Defence Force said.
"Our team should have arrived at the scene by now, but we have nothing further on whether or not there are survivors," a senior Jamaican military officer told Reuters.
A New York county official said that the people on board the plane included Rochester, New York, developer Larry Glazer and his wife, Jane Glazer. Both were killed, said Maggie Brooks, the Monroe County executive, adding she would speak about the couple's death at a press conference on Friday. It was not yet known if anyone else was on the plane.
The pilot stopped responding to radio calls about an hour after take-off from Greater Rochester International Airport in New York and was headed to Naples Municipal Airport in Florida, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The single-engine, seven-seater plane, a Socata TBM700, flew for several hours at an altitude of 25,000 feet (7,620 metres) southbound down the Florida east coast and south over Cuba, the FAA said.
It was trailed by two F-15 fighter jets, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said, before the jets halted their escort when the plane entered Cuban airspace.
CNN reported that the F-15 pilots who were tracking the aircraft could see the pilot slumped over before the plane's windows frosted over. There appeared to be two pilots in the plane, CNN reported, but the FAA said it had not confirmed the number of people on board.
U.S. aviation authorities alerted Cuba to the plane's approach and Cuban officials said it was not considered a violation of its air space.
The plane was owned by a company called New 51LG LLC, according to FlightAware.com and other online flight databases. That company appears to be registered at the same address as Buckingham Properties in Rochester, New York, according to registration documents posted on the Internet.
Calls to the company were not immediately answered.