The two-member crew of a small aircraft was killed when their plane crashed in the sea off the coast of Maleme, 16km to the west of Chania, in north-west Crete on Thursday night.

The ultralight plane, from the the Western Attica Aero Club, had taken off from Kopaida, located in central Boetia on course for Maleme airport, which is used by the Chania Aero Club.

According to reports, the aircraft was found at a depth of just a few meters, as lifeguards who approached the scene located the two pilots fastened to their seats inside the cabin.

The pilots reportedly arrived at the area at night and were forced to make a sharp turn due to low visibility as they were attempting to approach the runway from the side of the sea to land, but suddenly crashed at a close distance from the shore.

After the lifeguards notified local authorities a Coast Guard vessel, a Navy helicopter, and two passing cruise ships arrived.

The rescuers who arrived on the scene first were unable to provide first aid to the pilots, managing only to extricate their bodies, which were transported to the port of Kolymbari and from there to the Chania Hospital.