JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Searchers believe they have found part of the air ambulance that went missing with three people on board in Alaska, the aircraft owners said.

Guardian Flight announced that searchers using sonar technology found an object that is about the size of the aircraft about 600 feet (183 meters) underwater in Frederick Sound in the southeast, the Juneau Empire reported Monday.

The beacon signal from the missing plane's cockpit voice recorder was detected last month. The object recently located is within a mile (1.6 kilometers) of the underwater beacon, the owners said.

The King Air 200 disappeared Jan. 29 while on the way to pick up a patient in the southeast community of Kake.

"Our search team, utilizing side-scanning sonar technology, has located what might possibly turn out to be an unknown part of our missing aircraft in the extended search area," said Randy Lyman, Guardian Flight's senior vice president of operations.

The object is possibly 25 feet (7.6 meters) long and up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) wide, Lyman said.

The next step is to launch a remotely operated submersible, Lyman said.

Pilot Patrick Coyle, 63, flight nurse Stacie Rae Morse, 30, and flight paramedic Margaret Langston, 43, were on board the aircraft. The three were Guardian Flight employees based in Juneau.

"We are hopeful that this might be a positive step in the process to recover our missing friends and return them to their families," Lyman said.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com

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