Crews are searching for a single-engine plane that was seen plunging into the ocean off the coast of Isla Vista early Sunday morning, officials said.

A witness reported seeing a small aircraft descend at a rapid rate and “impact the ocean” about 2.5 miles away from Santa Barbara Airport around 7 a.m., Santa Barbara County Fire Public Information Officer Mike Eliason said.

It’s unclear how many people were aboard the aircraft, believed to be a Cessna 182 Skylane.

Rescue teams deployed quickly, with U.S. Coast Guard vessels and rescue helicopters converging on the scene.

About an hour and a half later, crews found debris consistent with the missing aircraft about 2 miles off the coast of Isla Vista, an area with water depths of around 200 feet, Eliason said.

Authorities around 10:30 a.m. said efforts are now focused on a recovery operation and they’ve requested a dive team with radar equipment from Los Angeles County.

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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