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CAAP still confirming if Palawan debris is from missing chopper

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said on Friday that investigators were still trying to confirm if the floating debris found off Palawan was from a missing medical evacuation helicopter.

The Philippine Coast guard earlier said it had found what looked like a gas tank with “R404A” and "pentafluoroethane” markings off Lumbucan Island.

“Based on reports, the debris found are still for confirmation by the CAAP Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry Board (AAIIB) investigators,” the CAAP said in a statement.

“As confirmed by Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services (PAMAS), the R404A tank is not from the N45VX aircraft,” it added.

The medical evacuation helicopter was reported missing on Wednesday, March 1.

The helicopter was on its way to the Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital in Brooke’s Point when it was reported missing.

On board were the pilot, a nurse, a patient, and two companions.

Meanwhile, the CAAP said search and rescue operations for the missing medical evacuation helicopter were continuing.

“Air assets for search and rescue operations have been deployed early today. A vessel in Palawan took temporary shelter near the search area yesterday due to inclement weather. Once weather conditions improve, search operations resume,” said the CAAP.

Isabela Cessna search

Meanwhile, the CAAP said search operations for a missing Cessna C206 were continuing along the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.

The plane, RP-C1174, went missing after taking off from Maconacon in Isabela.

“But due to clouds covering the terrain, the aerial rescue operations have been halted and are expected to resume once weather conditions permit. The ground SAR operation continues,” the CAAP said.

"To date, no sightings of the wreckage nor persons on board are found by the search and rescue teams," it added.

The CAAP earlier said it issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) lifting the flight ban from Cauayan, Isabela to Bongabon, Nueva Ecija since it was determined that the missing plane was not on that flight path.

RPC-1174 took off from Cauayan Airport in Isabela at 2:15 p.m. on January 24 heading for Maconacon town. On board the light aircraft were the pilot and five passengers.

The pilot last communicated with air traffic controllers at around 2:19 p.m. in Naguilian.

Bicol crash

With the recovery of all four bodies from the Albay province Cessna plane crash, retrieval operations were officially terminated.

The CAAP said the bodies were turned over to the authorities for investigation.

Camalig, Albay Mayor Carlos Baldo on Thursday said the search and rescue operations for Cessna 340A ran for over five days, shifting from rescue to retrieval following the confirmation of the four passengers' actual location, identity, and situation. — DVM, GMA Integrated News