The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Thursday said it has found floating debris that could be from the missing medical evacuation helicopter in Palawan.
A report by Super Radyo Palawan, citing Coast Guard District Palawan spokesperson Gretch Mary Acuario, said BRP Malabrigo found the debris off Lumbucan Island in Barangay Mangsee in Balabac.
The debris that looked like a gas tank reportedly has “R404A” and "pentafluoroethane” markings on it.
However, the PCG is still verifying if the debris is really a part of the medical evacuation (medevac) chopper that has been reported missing on Wednesday morning.
The Philippine Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Center of the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines said the medevac flight came from Mangsee island in the far southwest portion of Balabac, Palawan.
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.
The helicopter was determined to be an Alouette with registry number N45VX and operated by the Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services based in Brooke's Point.
It took off at 7:30 a.m. from Brooke’s Point to pick up the patient at Mangsee Island in Balabac and was expected to arrive at 10:30 a.m. at the hospital.
In a statement on Thursday, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said a permit addressed to Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services President Captain Dwayne Harris has been issued by the Flight Standards Inspectorate Service (FSIS), Flight Operations Department (FOD), and Air Traffic Service (ATS) approving its humanitarian flight operations from February 27 to August 27, 2023.
The CAAP said they are continuously conducting search and rescue operations to locate the missing medical evacuation helicopter.
Philippine Air Force (PAF) helicopters and PCG boats were currently deployed along the plane’s flight route, according to CAAP Area Center 4 - Puerto Princesa International Airport Manager Mohammad Naga Rascal. — with Richa Noriega/KBK/RSJ, GMA Integrated News