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‘Longest 20 minutes of my life’

/ 07:14 AM September 20, 2013

“It was the longest 20 minutes of my life,” said Cebuano priest Carmelo Diola, executive director of Dilaab Foundation, who was among the passengers of PAL Express from Davao City that had an engine malfunction Tuesday night.

The PAL Express flight 2P366 bound for Cebu was scheduled to leave Davao International Airport at 7:20 p.m.

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Because of air traffic, the flight was delayed for 40 minutes and was expected to arrive in Cebu after 1 hour and 10 minutes.

However, 20 minutes after departure, the plane’s right engine suddenly malfunctioned and the pilot decided to declare an emergency and return to Davao.

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Diola, who was seated on the right side of the aircraft, said he saw sparks in the engine. He said a seven-year-old boy who also saw what happened informed the stewardess that the aircraft’s engine is on fire.

The passengers stayed calm and they just prayed while flying back to Davao City. “I asked God for forgiveness and thanked God for all the good He has done to me,” Diola said. As a priest, Diola prayed for all the passengers but admitted that he was also scared.

Marlon Astillero, faculty member of University of San Jose-Recoletos, was thankful that the pilot’s expertise in handling the situation as the aircraft landed safely in Davao City.

All 36 passengers were attended to by the airline company. They were billeted at the Pinnacle Hotel and were provided with meals.

Mary Anne Dimabao, OIC of the Public Affairs Office of MCIA, said that all passengers were given a free flight for Cebu. Most of those passengers took the 9 a.m. PAL flight yesterday. Cebu Daily News tried to reach PAL Express Cebu manager Christopher Lebumfacil for comment but he was abroad and unable to return calls or e-mail. /Correspondent Christine Emily Pantaleon

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