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Learjet crashes off Florida coast, two bodies found

(Reuters) - A private jet with perhaps four people aboard crashed into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after takeoff from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Tuesday, and two bodies have been recovered, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said.

The plane, a Learjet headed for the Mexican resort city of Cozumel, went down several miles east of Fort Lauderdale shortly after 8 p.m. (0100 GMT Wednesday), Lieutenant Commander Gabe Somma said.

"We have recovered two bodies along with the debris field," he said, adding that there was no immediate word on whether anyone had survived.

Mexico's Communications and Transport Ministry said in a statement that there were four people on board the plane - two pilots and two passengers.

Somma said the Coast Guard had received reports that four people were aboard the aircraft, but that he could not confirm the number.

"At this hour we are continuing to search with a number of local and state and federal search and rescue assets," Somma said.

Coast Guard aircraft and surface craft have been deployed to the scene, and the cause of the crash is under investigation, he said.

The Mexican ministry named the pilots as Jose Galvan de la O. and Josue Buendia and the two passengers as Fernando Senties and Mariana Gonzalez.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson, Eric M. Johnson, and Elinor Comlay; Editing by Steve Gorman and Mohammad Zargham)

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