Team looking for plane now near presumed crash site
CAUAYAN CITY—Amid difficulty in traversing thick forests, muddy trails and a swollen river, the 44-member rescue team searching for the missing light plane and its two passengers have set up camp near its possible location within the Sierra Madre mountains in Palanan town, Isabela province.
Before noon Saturday, the team reached Sitio Lucban in Barangay Didiyan, where the temporary base of the rescuers was set up, said Glenn Cabildo, Palanan town disaster risk reduction management (DRRM) officer, on Sunday.
The area was about 14.4 kilometers from the boundary of Sitio Dipadsangan of Didiyan and the village of Casala in San Mariano town, also in Isabela, where the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines had lost its communication with the plane, Cabildo said.
Joshua Hapinat, the incident management team’s spokesperson, told reporters on Saturday that the monsoon-induced rains had slowed down the ascent of rescuers to the suspected crash site.
An aerial search by the Philippine Air Force-Tactical Operations Group 2 was also stalled as the military helicopter could not penetrate the heavy fog surrounding the area. The aerial search will resume once the weather improves, added Hapinat.
The three-seat Cessna plane, piloted by Capt. Levy Abul II with lone passenger Myrna Escalante on board, took off from the Cauayan City airport at 9:39 a.m. on Nov. 30 but failed to arrive at the Palanan airport, where it was supposed to land at 10:23 a.m.
Helpful K9 unit
Lawyer Constante Foronda, Isabela provincial DRRM officer, reported in last Friday’s briefing that they had also coordinated with the Coast Guard’s K9 unit to bring in their search dogs to help in their operations.
Search dogs have been helpful in finding the Cessna 206 plane that went missing in the Sierra Madre mountains on Jan. 24 this year, he added.
The plane’s wreckage was found a month later in the forested area of Divilacan town in Isabela, where the remains of all its passengers were also found—pilot Capt. Eleazar Mark Joven; and passengers Josefa Perla España, 59, Val Kamatoy, 34, Mark Eiron Siguerra, 21, Rom Joshtle Manaday, 16, and Xam Siguerra, 10.
Last August, a Cessna plane bound for Cagayan province also crashed in Pudtol, Apayao, killing Capt. Edzel John Tabuzo and Indian student-pilot Anshum Rajkumar Konde. INQ