Authorities are searching for survivors after a small plane carrying five or six people crashed off the coast Saturday, officials said.

Authorities lost radar contact with the Piper Aztec at 9:20 a.m. while it was on its way to Andros Island, Bahamas, Coast Guard Petty Officer Jennifer Johnson said. It had taken off from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport around 9 a.m.

A rescue helicopter spotted the debris about 17 miles east of Fort Lauderdale, Johnson said. A Coast Guard cutter is also helping with the search and rescue effort.

It was not immediately known what caused the crash.

The plane is registered to Glen Quackenbush, of Plantation, according to Kathleen Bergen, an FAA spokeswoman. It is not known if Quackenbush was onboard. Bergen said six people were onboard, but the Coast Guard said the number was five.

A woman who answered the phone at Quackenbush's home declined to comment.