Kin join search for pilots of missing Air Force plane
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Air Force assured family members of the two missing pilots of a light aircraft that crashed nine days ago off Mariveles, Bataan, that it was not giving up the search for the wreckage of the plane.
Family members on Friday were allowed on board a naval rescue vessel still scouring areas near La Monja island for signs of the two pilots and their SF-260 plane.
“We’re still searching and we’re not going to stop until we find the wreckage,” PAF spokesperson Colonel Miguel Okol said Saturday.
No new debris has been found since the few scattered parts recovered shortly after the crash, the PAF said.
“It’s very frustrating for us and of course for the families,” Okol said.
While the PAF has not officially released the names of the pilots while the search is ongoing, other reports have identified them as Maj. Neil Tumaneng and Lt. Michael Arugay.
“The pilots are officially declared missing,” Okol said.
He said the families were kept abreast of everything the PAF was doing to determine what happened to the pilots and their plane.
“We tell them everything. We tell them what we do. We’re taking care of them,” Okol said.
On Friday, two family members were brought to the search site to see for themselves how the search was going on. “We tell them what we’re doing,” Okol said.
PAF and Philippine Navy personnel are searching an area five kilometers northwest of La Monja island, between the tips of Hormos and Cochinas Point in Mariveles.
The PAF said three other sites had been targetted for dive and seabed mapping operations.
The SF-260 aircraft with body number 716 left Sangley Point, Cavite, at 6:52 a.m. on May 18 for a proficiency flight over Corregidor.
Fishermen near La Monja island reported seeing the plane go down at around 7:15 a.m.
Since the crash, the PAF has grounded its seven remaining SF-260 turbo-prop planes which had been converted to light attack aircraft.
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