Search resumes but plane yet to be found in Isabela
CAUAYAN CITY — Teams looking for a Cessna plane that went off radar while on its way to Maconacon, Isabela, on Tuesday have focused their search on a 20-kilometer radius area in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges from where the last mobile phone signal from one of six people onboard was logged, authorities said on Thursday.
The search, which was called off on Wednesday due to poor weather conditions, resumed on Thursday as two helicopters from the Philippine Air Force-Tactical Operations Group 2 traced the plane’s flight path between Cauayan City and Maconacon, said Constante Foronda, Isabela provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer. Foronda told reporters that the search included the northern section of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges.
Rescue teams from the police and military in Isabela also started ground search as they scoured the mountains and waters near the possible location of the distressed aircraft, which they plotted to be in the mountains of Maconacon, said Army Capt. Rigor Pamittan, spokesperson for the Philippine Army’s 5th Infantry Division.
Foronda said search and rescue teams determined this location after learning that a relative tried to call one of the passengers. He said the phone rang during that call but it went unanswered. Succeeding attempts to reach the passenger failed. The six-seat Gen AV Cessna 206 disappeared from radar an hour after it took off at 2:16 p.m. on Tuesday from the Cauayan Airport. It never reached the Maconacon airport, where it was expected to land at 3 p.m. that day.
Pamittan said they also tapped the help of members of the indigenous Agta community in the province to speed up the search in remote areas due to their familiarity with the terrain. During a meeting with the rescue teams on Wednesday, RDRRMC officials said they were verifying reports of possible sightings of the plane in the towns of Divilacan and San Mariano, which are adjacent to Maconacon. The plane’s pilot was identified as Capt. Eleazar Mark Joven while his passengers were Val Kamatoy, 34; Kamatoy’s nephews Rom Josthle Manday, 15, and siblings Mark Eiron Siguerra, 20, and Xam Siguerra, 10; and Josefa Perla Espana.
In a telephone interview on Thursday, Anna May Kamatoy, sister of Val and mother of the Siguerra siblings, said she was not getting enough sleep after learning about the incident.
Kamatoy said her children and their other relatives who boarded the same Cessna plane were supposed to attend a relative’s wake in Maconacon.
She lamented that they were not getting information or updates from authorities since the plane was declared missing on Tuesday. “Their (government officials’) lack of communication is frustrating,” said Kamatoy, noting that they learned about the incident only through their relatives in Maconacon.
Espana’s daughter, Juliet, said she was forced to send a relative to this city to get updates on the incident since she was not also getting any information from the government agencies involved in the search and rescue operations.
Addressing the relatives’ concerns, Foronda said they were assuring them that all necessary information about the search would be disclosed to them.“We’re tapping all available resources to find your missing relatives … Please don’t worry. We sympathize with you all and we will make sure that you will get [updates] on the situation of your relatives,” Foronda said during the briefing. INQ
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