The National Transportation Safety Board was notified and will be leading the investigation. Investigators are hopeful the recovery will be easier than some underwater crash cases because the water is so shallow, he said.
There was no indication that the pilots made any distress calls or declared an emergency. It was operating a flight for Amazon Air.
A Mesa Airlines employee has been identified as one of the people aboard Saturday's deadly cargo plane crash. "Our team continues to work closely with the NTSB, the FAA and local authorities on the ground in Houston".
Atlas Air said its priority is the three people on the plane and their family members.
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A Boeing 767 has crashed on approach to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
Ed Gonzalez, the sheriff of neighboring Harris County, which includes Houston, said on Twitter that his office was sending personnel to help with the rescue efforts.
CBS News learned moments after a Sunday press briefing that Mesa Airlines confirmed one of its employees was onboard Atlas Air Flight 3581 on Saturday, identified as Captain Sean Archuleta, who had been a pilot for Mesa since 2013 and had been riding in the aircraft's jump seat. "We appreciate the first responders who worked urgently to provide support".
Air traffic controllers in Houston tried to contact the plane on at least two occasions, but received no response.
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"We can confirm there were three people on board the aircraft". 'That's a negative, ' he said.
The Boeing 767 cargo jetliner, which was being operated for Amazon Prime Air, was travelling from Miami to Houston when officials lost radar with the plane about 30 miles away from its destination.
Hawthorne said that when he went to the crash site he saw floating debris that included bed sheets, women's clothing, cardboard boxes and fiberglass. "We are looking for a lost aircraft ... it's a heavy Boeing 767", meaning it's a big, two-aisle plane.
The recorders are required to be equipped with so-called pingers, which emit a distinct sound once they come in contact with water to make them easier to locate.
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"No ground contact from here", a pilot responded.