Coast Guard

Published: Nov 21, 2013 11:47 AM EST

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Finding survivors remained the priority Thursday morning for rescue crews searching the Atlantic Ocean for two people who were aboard a Mexico-bound jet that crashed after taking off from a South Florida airport.
    
Crews continued searching overnight for the two missing people from the medical flight that had dropped off a patient at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Coast Guard officials said.
    
The Learjet 35 crashed Tuesday night into the ocean about a mile offshore, and authorities have recovered the bodies of two other people from the wreckage.
    
The search has covered 4,000 square miles so far, and divers were planning to investigate an object that may be a sunken piece of the wreckage, Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma said.
    
The search will continue until rescuers determine that the chances of survival are minimal, Somma said.
    
"At this time, we're not there yet," he said.
    
Two pilots, a doctor and a nurse were on the plane. They were flying back to Cozumel, Mexico, when the pilot reported an engine failure and attempted to return to the airport.
    
Mexico's Transportation Department has identified the pilots as Jose Hiram Galvan de la O. and Josue Buendía Moreno and the passengers as Fernando Senties Nieto and Mariana Gonzalez Isunza. It was not immediately clear which victims remained missing Thursday.
    
The company that runs the medical transport planes said the flight crew had picked up a patient in Costa Rica.
    
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
    
Federal Aviation Administration officials had warned of potential problems found in the Learjet 35 in June.
    
According to the special bulletin, maintenance workers found cracks in the control column on Learjet Model 35A (C-21A) airplanes. Five airplanes were inspected and all five had cracks in the area at the base of the column where it attaches to the floor. However, the concern was not deemed dangerous enough to warrant a further directive, according to the bulletin.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)