(Reuters) - Search and rescue efforts for a small plane that crashed in Lake Erie last month have been suspended, and the remains of three of the six people aboard have been recovered, city officials said on Tuesday.


Numerous pieces of debris were recovered during the search for Cessna Citation 525, which went down on Dec. 29 shortly after takeoff from a Cleveland airport, a spokesman for Mayor Frank Jackson said in a statement.


The plane was carrying John Fleming, head of an Ohio liquor distribution company; his wife, Sue; their teenage sons Jack and Andrew; and two friends.


Three remains were recovered and have undergone DNA testing to determine their identities, the statement said.


The search and rescue operation was headed by Cleveland police. The cause of the accident is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the accident.


The Cessna had been bound for Ohio State University Airport and disappeared after flying about two miles (three km) over the lake, the U.S. Coast Guard has said.

(Writing by Ian Simpson in Washington; Additional reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland; Editing by Bernard Orr)