Bodies of 4 on board ill-fated Cessna plane in Bicol found —mayor
The four people on board the ill-fated Cessna airplane in Bicol have been found dead, a local official said on Thursday.
Interviewed on Dobol B TV, Mayor Carlos Baldo of Camalig, Albay said the bodies of the four were found near the wreckage of the plane, which crashed near the crater of Mayon Volcano.
With the discovery of the bodies, Baldo said they have shifted their operation from rescue to retrieval.
"Natagpuan na po 'yung apat na sakay ng eroplanong bumagsak po doon sa may crater ng Mayon, sa ngayon po retrieval na lang po kami," he said.
(We've found the four people who were on board the plane that crashed near the crater of Mayon Volcano, and now we have shifted our operations to retrieval.)
"Nandun lang sila sa may pinagbagsakan pero hindi doon sa loob ng eroplano," Baldo added.
(The bodies were found outside the airplane.)
Long way down
Baldo said the challenge now in the retrieval operation would be the trek down the volcano considering the area's treacherous terrain.
According to the official, the bodies will be brought down the volcano on foot as the terrain in the area makes the use of aircraft impossible. He estimated the travel to take more than four hours.
At a press conference later in the morning, Baldo said he is hoping that the bodies will be brought down the volcano within the day.
"Sana matapos ngayong araw. Alam naman nating 'yung family naghihintay na rin," he said.
(We wish the operation will be over within the day. We know that the families of the fatalities are waiting.)
"Kahit napuntahan na ['yung crash site], hindi ganun kadali ibaba," he added.
(Even if the team has reached the crash site, bringing down the bodies will not be easy.)
As for the crashed aircraft, Baldo told Dobol B TV that it will be the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) which will decide on what would be done with it.
In a statement, CAAP said as of 2 p.m. personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection - Special Rescue Force (BFP-SRF) were also on their way to provide additional manpower to the retrieval team.
It said the rescue team were facing difficulties in the extrication of bodies from the gully on Mayon Volcano's slope near the wreckage site.
It added once extrication has been completed, the bodies of the victims will be dropped off at the incident command post in Brgy. Anoling, Camalig before they are transported to a Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) lab.
CAAP, through the Philippine Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Center (PARCC) and the other involved agencies, will enter into the conclusion of the search and rescue (SAR) operations for RP-C2080 once the aircraft and all its occupants have been located and accounted for, it said in a statement.
On Saturday, CAAP said Bicol International Airport air traffic controllers lost contact with a Cessna 340 airplane carrying four people — the pilot, a crew member, 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.
In a statement, the family of pilot Captain Rufino James Crisostomo Jr. thanked the rescue team, personnel, and other people for searching for the victims of the crash and providing the necessary assistance.
The family said Crisostomo during the COVID-19 pandemic flew many flights to transport life-saving supplies, vaccines, personnel, and other medical equipment.
“His life ended carrying out what he loved the most, his passion for flying. We ask for prayers for the eternal repose of his soul and strength for his family and loved ones,” the family said.
The airplane's two passengers, both foreigners, were consultants of the power firm Energy Development Corporation (EDC).
In a statement, Richard Tantoco, EDC president and COO, identified the fatalities as Crisostomo, Joel G. Martin, Simon Chipperfield, and Karthi Santhanam.
"Our heartfelt sympathies go to their families and friends during this difficult time," Tantoco said.
"It is with the deepest gratitude that we thank the tireless efforts of all the rescuers from branches of government, civilian volunteers, and EDC Emergency Response Teams from across the country." —KBK/AOL, GMA Integrated News