METHUEN, MASS. (WHDH) - First responders believe the pilot of a small plane is dead after the aircraft crashed into the Merrimack River in Methuen Monday afternoon. 

The single-engine plane took off from Lawrence Airport around 2:11 p.m. Records showed it was registered to a man from Littleton.

The Federal Aviation Administration tower reported the plane missing shortly after it took off. The plane was discovered by a civilian aircraft about a mile away in a remote part of the river.

Soon flying over the area, SKY7-HD spotted the plane lying upside down in the river. Crews could be seen working around the plane and using tools to cut into its fuselage.

“The embankments were pretty steep, as Methuen’s side also is very steep. The plane was on the opposite side. It was upside down when we arrived. As of right now, it is stationary, of where it is, and all the crews are working to assist removing the soul from it,” said North Andover Fire Deputy Chief Graham Rowe.

Emergency crews were seen using at least two boats in the area. Dive teams were in the water as of 5:30 p.m. helping in the recovery effort. A state police helicopter was also on scene.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA, both of which were on scene Monday.

“Unfortunately, we deal with this quite a bit in this profession, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Those conversations we have with the loved ones of those that are lost are some of the most difficult things that we do,” said Methuen Police Chief Scott McNamara.

This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.

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