Nepali’s body retrieved; mission accomplished



The body of 22 year-old Kshitiz Chand (shown in photo), co-pilot of the ill-fated plane that crashed on Aug. 20, 2012, off Masbate City, was retrieved by fishermen on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. PHOTO FROM FACEBOOK

MASBATE CITY—Fishermen on Thursday retrieved the body of Nepali student pilot Kshitiz Chand as police began an investigation into the plane crash that killed Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, the Nepali and the aircraft’s owner.

On Thursday, a passenger ferry, the MV Cooperative, saw the body of Chand about half a kilometer from the coast near the area where the wreckage of the plane was found. The ferry’s crew tied the body with rope and turned it over to Navy searchers, according to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

With the recovery of the missing Nepali, officials announced the close of search and retrieval operations and the formal start of the police investigation.

Police officials said investigators were looking for people who saw the plane plunge into the waters off Masbate City on Saturday afternoon and the fisherman who rescued Robredo’s security aide, Senior Inspector June Paulo Abrazado, 26, the lone survivor.

Divers recovered the remains of Robredo, 54, near the door of the four-seat Piper Seneca on Tuesday, and that of Captain Jessup Bahinting, on Wednesday. The bodies of the two, along with Chand, were seen by divers inside the aircraft on Tuesday, but by Wednesday, when divers got Bahinting, the Nepali had disappeared.

Chand’s remains were identified by his father, Tek Bahadur Chand, who flew to Masbate from Nepal on Monday.

The bodies of Bahinting, 61, and Chand, 21, were flown to Cebu Thursday.

The plane’s wreckage was refloated at around 7 a.m. and brought closer to shore Thursday.

Senior Superintendent Heriberto Olitoquit, the director of the Philippine National Police in Masbate, said all the belongings of the crash victims, including bags, were found in the wreckage and brought to the command center.

Best of ‘bayanihan’

Masbate Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, described the search-rescue-retrieval mission as a showcase of the best of the “bayanihan” spirit of the people despite scarce resources.

But General Jessie Dellosa, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the operations also highlighted the military’s limited capability.

“We only have six Navy divers who can dive up to 200 feet (60 meters),” Dellosa said. He said the Philippine Army sent six divers but they could not go deeper than the others. “We have exhausted all the means available to us.”

Gazmin said the operation was a learning experience that should never happen again. “Our only weakness is the lack of trained people on the technical side because we lack the equipment,” he said.

“Next time, we will be more prepared,” he said in a news conference announcing the conclusion of the search operations. The mission, he said, created a template for what to do in case of a similar incident in the future.

Total wreck

Senior Supt. Pedro Cabatingan, PNP director in Bicol, said police authorities were completing the documentation of the incident, which included taking photos of the plane’s wreckage described as a “total wreck,” and making an inventory of recovered parts of the plane.

The right wing of the plane was recovered on Sunday, two days before the discovery of the wreckage.

“We are interested in the right engine,” said Cabatingan, describing this as “an investigative point of concern” after Abrazado claimed in his affidavit that the pilots were having problems with the right engine before the crash.

Technical assessments, however, rest with investigators of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and other foreign experts. They will come in after the initial police probe, said Cabatingan. “The technical aspect on how it developed engine trouble is not within our (competence),” he said.

Most important evidence


“The most important evidence is the wreckage … which is pending turnover by the salvage team to me. But once we turned (this) over to CAAP, the ball is in the hands of the CAAP already,” he said. “We will not dilly-dally on this.”

“Hopefully, we can re-create [the aircraft’s condition] before and after the crash,” CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III told reporters in Manila.

He said it was important that the two engines of the Piper Seneca aircraft, manufactured by Piper Aircraft Inc. based in Vero Beach, Florida, be recovered although he said foreign experts would have to be consulted to determine if the accident was caused by engine failure.

The CAAP earlier suspended the flying school and air taxi operations of Aviatour Air, which owns the aircraft. The agency has yet to conclude its investigation of a March accident involving another Aviatour plane that crashed in Camiguin province, killing the pilot and a Norwegian passenger.

Emergency locator

Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the congressional budget hearing, said he hoped that the inquiry would result in strengthening the country’s air safety regulations. For example, he said he wanted to know if the downed aircraft had a requisite emergency locator transmitter (ELT).

“A plane cannot be allowed to fly without an ELT. Why didn’t it work? Was it broken? Was it broken upon impact? Was it installed? These are the questions that the investigators will be asking,” he told reporters before defending his department’s proposed P32.74-billion budget next year.

Roxas said it was “no joke” that the Piper Seneca plane was found three days after the accident. If only the ELT worked, he said the search could have been completed within hours.

“This is a big tragedy, a big personal loss but this doesn’t mean that our airline industry is not safe,” he said. “I don’t want to jump the gun on the investigation but this will be comprehensive and exhaustive,” he said. “We will know the entirety of what happened so we could strengthen the (air) safety regulations in the country.”—With reports from Jerome Aning and Christian V. Esguerra in Manila and Jhunnex Napallacan in Cebu City

Originally posted at 10:40 pm | Thursday, August 23, 2012

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  • Lolo Mo

    This is  an exercise in futility, waste of manhours, and financial resources. What has happened has happened, We can not bring back the dead, nor we can change destiny. Let’s move on. Only clowns will engage on such useless endeavor. 

    • 4kingdaddy

      true…but we have to dig deeper to find out what really was the cause of the accident…engine failure, human error, or what??….investigation is normal if you are not familiar with it, whether a prominent person/s is/are involved or not…it’s always been a standard procedure, whether we like it or not…..

  • DamayDamayLang

    … talk is cheap.

  • 4kingdaddy

    aba, eh kababasa ko lang nakita ng navy ang bangkay ni chand lumulutang, pumunta ang rubber boat at kinuha..ngayon ferry ang nakakita tapos ang first paragraph,  mangingisda ang kumuha..ano ba yan….

    • filipinaskoh

      OO nga nabasa ko din iyon. IIsipin ko sana na nag swap na lang sila ng dead body para hindi na matagalan ang search and recovery operation kaya lang na-identified sya ng ama nya na sya nga iyon. parang may mali sa reporting na ito ang sabi nakita ung pilot along with the co-pilot pagdating ng wednesday ung pilot na lang. Ano un naglakbay ng mag-isa ung bangkay ng nepalese dahil hindi sila kaagad iniahon at gusto ng makita sya.  

      • 4kingdaddy

        nawala na kamo ‘yong unang balita na navy ang nakakita….mukhang malisyoso ang mga ibinibigay na impormasyon…may kutob tuloy ako na baka nga may “foul play” dito….isipin mo, nakalabas si abrazado pero sabi nila ang bangkay ni sec robredo nasa tabi ng pinto ng eroplano…tapos di makapa ni abrazado si sec robredo…nakalabas siya tapos ang lumutang na bagahe eh ‘yong kanya lang…may “pabigat” ata ‘yong bagahe ni sec kaya hindi lumutang…tapos 15 minutes siyang nakalutang bago nasagip ng mga mangingisda….aba, salbabida ata ‘yong bag ni chief….di ba nakakapaghinala na tuloy?….

  • filipinaskoh

    Kung hindi pa nagkakaroon ng aksidenteng ganito hindi pa malalaman kung anu-ano ang kakulangan ng ating Sadatahang Lakas.

    On other hand at least we still have 6 divers, masama naman kung wala.
    The volunteers are really good, paano na kung wala sila?

    It’s time to upgrade our National Defense. Sana naman ung para sa national Defense ay wag mapunta sa kung kani-kaninong bank account lang.

  • Jude Fawley

    This country is category 2 deserved! If this country’s air safety regulation does not change drastically in the future, we will see more crashes, more lives will be lost. How many articles have been written already about the need to address the air safety issues?

    Forget the CAAP conducting an investigation of the tragedy. It is not capable of doing that. They must as well just call the FAA or the ICAO to conduct the investigation. I doubt if the FAA will even bother of doing that.

    I am very critical of using a 747 on a very short flight like Manila-Davao. It is very stressful to the aircraft especially when we are using an old 747. The 747 is designed for long haul flights to avoid rapid structural wear cause by constant takeoff and landing. I wish PAL would stop using their 747 for short haul flights.

    • tadasolo

      My brother works as an Engineer at Boeing Aircraft and ask him about the structural integrity of the planes. The chances of structural failure for airplanes is zero. Most airplane accidents are due to either pilot error and weather conditions

      • Jude Fawley

        what do you mean zero? There are several airplane crashes involving structural failures. China Airlines Flight 611, Air India flight 182, United Airlines flight 811, and some more. Just Wikipedia it and you’ll see for yourself a list of crashes involving structural failures. Landing and takeoff are stressful to the body frame and joints of any aircraft especially the heavy one like 747. In the United States, they always use the 737 or A320 for domestic flights. The 747 is never designed for short flights.

  • Jimmy

    I am not sure about this: but to my research the Cessna that Jesse took was more than 40 years old..! Would it be possible to require all private and government aircraft be required to be not more than 18 years old except those being use privately..???????????

  • Edward Solilap

    Huh? always in the future is the main reason of safety when we have an incident or tragic casualties why? does our government officials and military officials luck of knowledge to address security risk? they may have forgotten to implement the strict rules about safety and we can see it thru simple things around us please check if your car have safety belt or fire extinguisher it’s for you and everybody around you but who cares ’till it’s too late for someone who need it.  

  • Reynaldo

    The plane was too old…thats all i can say.

  • Juan

    Chand had a Private Pilot licence. He graduated last year. Nag.aaral xa nga ngayon para maging commercial pilot. Kulang ang balita ng Inquirer.

  • Mirabelle Dorcas


  • Mike Penaloza

    why most of the time it’s the fishermen rescuing survivors and recovering bodies, what are the rescuers doing, just swimming?

  • JK1000

    Great job Philippine Coast Guard, and some foreign technical divers,foreign volunteer divers for helping us find the three remains of plane crash victims.  Kudos to the Philippine Navy SWAG units for retrieving the bodies. even though your faces were not shown to any news footages because of your secretive missions you do for the Philippines, we will always remember your bravery and service to the Country.

  • poltergeist_fuhrer

    tnx a lot to all rescuers….especially the fishermen….

    most especially the volunteer divers, matt reed and two lady companions who first saw robredo…

  • 4kingdaddy

    the banner should have been….”Nepali’s Body Retrieved, Probe To Start”….recovering the bodies were not enough…the difficult work is yet to come…how this accident happened…what is there to probe, you ask?….was it a human error, engine failure, fuel shortage, wind sheer, or the worst of it all, “foul play” which i hope doesn’t come to that conclusion

  • East_Crusader

    calling the attention of inquirer, make sure you make your report crystal clear, nakakalito..

  • adscity_info

    Mali mali itong Inquirer. The label on the picture says Chand is 22 years old, but the content says 21.

    • Michiko

      age 21 0r 22 years old is not too much issue, the important is that the body was retrieved.

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