A CESSNA plane crashed near the crater of Mayon Volcano with two Filipinos and two Australian nationals on board.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda showed photos of the wreckage of the Cessna 340, which he said was found around 350 meters away from the crater of the active volcano on Sunday, February 19.
Pilot Capt. Rufino James Crisostomo Jr., crew Joel Martin, and two Australian passengers — Simon Chipperfield and Karthi Santanan — are still missing.
Missing Saturday morning
The Cessna plane with tail number RPC 2080 departed Bicol International Airport around 6:43 am Saturday, February 18.
It was expected to arrive in Manila around 7:53 am yesterday.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in Legazpi reported that the pilot was instructed to report 20 miles out of the Bicol International Airport.
After several minutes, CAPP Legazpi could not still contact RPC 2080.
The last contact the CAAP had was at the Camalig Cement Plant, passing 2,600 feet.
Around 9 am Saturday, CAPP Legazpi declared the plane missing.
Search and rescue team
Camalig City Mayor Carlos Irwin Baldo formed a search and rescue team.
He alerted all the barangay officials in Camalig, the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and Energy Development Corp. (EDC) to help find the plane and its passengers.
But the search teams found it hard to go to the area, as the rains poured the Bicol region.
Around Sunday afternoon, more than 32 hours since its disappearance, the wreckage of RPC 2080 plane was located.
Mayor Baldo said the plane was found at the upper part of Brgy. Quirangay, along the Anoling gulley, less than 2 kilometers from the Forest Rangers’ command post.
Authorities are still investigating the crash site to map out factors that led to the recent incident in town, Baldo said.
“Search and rescue operations are still in effect unless dead bodies are found, then it will be declared as search and retrieval operations,” Baldo added.
Considering that Mayon Volcano is still active, at Alert Level 2 status, the team needs to closely coordinate with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) on how to go about the S&R operations.
“The local government is expected to formulate protocols especially intended for said search and rescue/retrieval ops, along with the prioritization of responder safety,” he said. w/ reports from Peewee Bacuño