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Authorities not sure if there are still 2 bodies inside plane

/ 06:47 PM August 21, 2012

Briefing of Task Force Kalihim (Search and Rescue Ops for Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo) by Maj. Gen. Eduardo del Rosario. Photo from Benigno Aquino’s official Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines—Authorities have yet to determine whether there were, indeed, two more bodies inside the cockpit of ill-fated Piper Seneca plane where the body of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo was earlier recovered, Major General Eduardo del Rosario of the Philippine Army said.

In a television report, del Rosario, head of Task Force Kalihim (Search and Rescue Ops for Robredo), said they have yet to ascertain if both bodies of pilots Captain Jessup Bahinting and Kshitiz Chand, a Nepalese flight student, are both in the cockpit of the aircrafts fuselage.

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“It is too dark inside,” del Rosario said, but added that previous divers are sure that there’s a body inside, only that they can’t see how many were in there.

“We want to assume, but walang 100 percent confirmation . . . we want to be on the positive side,” he said.

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After Tuesday’s operation, del Rosario said 50 percent of the job is now “easier.”

He said retrieval operations were called off for the day, but is expected to be finished by Wednesday afternoon when all units return to work by 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Retrieval operations in the waters off Masbate were hampered Tuesday afternoon after foreign volunteer diver Danny Brumbach fell ill due to “decompression sickness.”

He was rushed to a decompression chamber and is now recovering.

Meanwhile, del Rosario said a diver who went to the crash site could not assess whether how many bodies were inside the plane.

“The plane was overturned and the nose dented so the pilots were pinned while Secretary Robredo was at the back and the door was opened so divers were able to retrieve him,” added.

Del Rosario clarified that the plane was found only 800 meters from the shore and was still far from the ravine.

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He said he hoped that the search and retrieval operations would be over before noon.

Wednesday’s operations will be “purely” military, del Rosario said.

“We have decided that we will utilize the Navy divers to go as deep as 200 feet so it will be purely the Armed Forces of the Philippines operations starting tomorrow (Wednesday),” he said.

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TAGS: Jesse Robredo, search and retrieval operations, two pilots
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