One fatality confirmed in East Oahu plane crash
• Photo gallery: One fatality confirmed in East Oahu plane crash
PALOLO VALLEY — At least one person is dead following the crash of a Piper Cherokee aircraft off the Lanipo Trail near Ka'au Crater, the Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed.
Police and fire personnel arrived at the scene of the crash, about 60 feet west of the trail, around 6 p.m. after an hours-long search hampered by bad weather.
It is not known yet known if there was more than one person about the aircraft, which was destroyed by fire.
Honolulu Fire Department spokesperson said that because there were "no viable signs of life" in the area, operations would be suspended until tomorrow morning. Honolulu police will secure the trail overnight.
FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor said FAA investigators will be sent to the scene on Monday. Both the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the incident.
HFD's Air 1 rescue helicopter and a team of police and fire rescue personnel searched an area between Wai'alae Iki Ridge and Lanipo Ridge above Wilhelmina Rise following a 1:46 p.m. report of a downed aircraft.
The wreckage was sighted around 5 p.m. but rainy conditions made it difficult for crews to reach the area.
Gregor said that the plane was en route from Lana'i to Honolulu when air traffic controllers lost radar and radio contact with it around 1:45 p.m.
Gregor said the pilot did not issue a mayday.
According to Main, a group of hikers on the Wiliwilinui Trail reported hearing a crash and seeing flames.
One hiker exiting the Lanipo Trail said she heard the plane's engine having difficulty before the crash.
"It sounded like a backfire," said the hiker, who asked not to be identified.
Another hiker, who also asked not to be identified, said she saw "big flames" followed by the sound of popping.
The hikers said the crash occurred at the peak of today's cloudiness in the area.
The National Weather Service said there were clouds and rain over O'ahu this afternoon from a passing cold front.