Witness recalls last minutes leading to Robredo plane crashBy Jonas Soltes
Inquirer Southern Luzon
MASBATE CITY, Philippines – The light plane wobbled for several minutes before it dropped into the sea. It then stayed in the water’s surface for about 10 minutes before it completely sank.
This was the account of Joel Espinilla, 37, a coastal resident of Masbate City who witnessed the last few minutes before the Piper Seneca, with Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and three others on board, crashed into the waters off the city’s airport on Saturday.
Espinilla said he was playing chess on the shore with some friends at around 4:30 p.m. when they saw the small plane wobbling. The plane then went belly up before it dropped. He said they thought it would drop on the houses nearby but it went down into the water, on its side.
“It happened very fast. The tail was bobbing up for about 10 minutes before it sank,” Espinilla said.
He said it was low tide at that time so there were few fishermen in the area that could have helped.
So far, only one of the passengers was plucked out from the sea by passing fisherman, Chief Inspector Jun Abrazado, Robredo’s security aide. Abrazado suffered a fractured arm and had bruises all over his body. After getting first aid, he joined the search and rescue team to help them pinpoint the crash site.
Robredo and pilots Capt. Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese Kshitiz Chand remained missing 16 hours into the search.
Espinilla said those on the shore who saw the plane drop wanted to help but were scared that the aircraft would explode.
He said they only learned that it was Robredo who was on board the plane when top local officials themselves came to lead the search and rescue at around 5 p.m.
Tags: Accidents , Airplane Crash , airplanes , Armand Balilo , Department of Interior and Local governments , Jesse Robredo , Local authorities , Local Governments , News , Philippine Coast Guard , public officials , Search and rescue operations