Search resumes on Lake Erie for missing plane and six passengers

Jan 1 (Reuters) - Search teams on Lake Erie restarted their attempts on Sunday to find the remains of six people presumed to have died when their small plane crashed into the water shortly after taking off, the Cleveland mayor's office said.

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Cleveland fire department and a private search company each launched boats to search for the aircraft that went missing late on Thursday, the mayor's office said in a statement.

The boats, equipped with sonar and divers, would begin near the last known location of the plane, according to the statement.

High winds of 30 knots (34.5 mph) and waves of up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) prevented a search on Saturday for the Cessna Citation 525, which dropped off radar shortly after departing Burke Lakefront Airport on the shore of Lake Erie north of downtown Cleveland.

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Weather was expected to be calmer throughout Sunday, with sunny skies and wind around 5 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

The plane was carrying John Fleming, 46, president and chief executive of Ohio-based liquor distribution company Superior Beverage Group, his wife, Sue, their sons Jack and Andrew, and two close friends, company officials have said.

Officials have not said what might have caused the plane to go down.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, officials said.