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CAAP: Aerial search needed to confirm if debris on Mayon is missing Cessna

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Tuesday said aerial search is needed to confirm if the debris of an aircraft shown in a photo of Mayon Volcano belongs to the Cessna plane that went missing on Saturday.

Interviewed on GMA News’ Unang Balita, CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio was asked about the extra steps that need to be taken before allowing rescuers to go to Mayon Volcano, which is under Alert Level 2 (Increased Unrest), according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

“Weather permits, 'yung aerial search ang maganda para ma-identify ['yung aircraft] dahil sa litratong lumabas, 'yung tail end naman [ng eroplano], intact pa so makikita 'yung tail number,” he said.

(If weather permits, aerial search is good so we can identify [the aircraft] because based on the photos, the tail end [of the plane] is still intact so we could see the tail number.)

Apolonio said they have to be sure that the debris was really that of the missing Cessna plane considering that rescuers would have to trek 6,000 feet above the ground for the operation.

He said there were instances of mistaken crash sites.

According to Apolonio, a transponder showed that the missing Cessna was within the supposed crash site before it lost power. However, he noted that it is not conclusive.

The suspected crash site is within the permanent danger zone (PDZ) of Mayon Volcano in Albay.

Apolonio said it should be investigated how the Cessna aircraft got to the no-fly zone over the volcano and why the aircraft failed to send an emergency signal to its emergency locator before the crash.

A Philippine Air Force helicopter was conducting a reconnaissance flight over the area on Tuesday morning, Apolonio told GMA News Online.

On Saturday, CAAP said Bicol International Airport air traffic controllers lost contact with a Cessna 340 airplane carrying four people, including the pilot, crew, and two passengers.

CAAP said the Cessna 340 (Caravan) aircraft with registry number RP-C2080 departed Bicol International Airport at 6:43 a.m.

Air traffic controllers last contacted the aircraft at 6:46 a.m., when the plane was approaching the Camalig Bypass Road at an altitude of 2,600 feet.

The plane was expected to arrive in Manila at 7:53 a.m.

Camalig, Albay Mayor Carlos Baldo confirmed on Sunday that the plane seen on Mayon Volcano in a photo was the Cessna that went missing on Saturday. —KG, GMA Integrated News