Dive operations for missing Robredo, 2 others suspended-A A +A
Sunday, August 19, 2012
MANILA (Updated 7:37 p.m.) -- Authorities suspended Sunday night the dive operations off Masbate for Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and two others who remained missing more than 24 hours after their plane crashed Saturday.
Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas assured, however, that while scuba divers pulled out Sunday evening due to visibility problems and strong current, “surface search and rescue will continue all night.”
“Surface SaR (search and rescue) to continue all night combined with towing the sonar finder thru the area,” Roxas posted on Twitter.
“The current is quite strong at the Ticao channel. We will continue the dive operations tomorrow,” he added.
The sonar equipment, which will help detect the lost aircraft, was airlifted from Cebu on Sunday morning to assist in the operation. It was borrowed from the Cebu Yacht Club.
Also on Sunday, more debris of the six-seater Piper Seneca carrying Robredo, his aide Police Chief Inspector Jun Abrasado and pilots Captain Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese co-pilot Kshitiz Chand were recovered from the crash site.
Rescuers found the plane’s right wing with number "431."
"Debris - appears to be (from the) right wing. Numbers are part of aircraft designation RPC-4431," Roxas tweeted.
The plane crashed around 4:20 p.m. Saturday while attempting to make an emergency landing at the Masbate City airport. The pilot did not make it to the airport, as the plane plunged into the sea, 500 meters away from the airport runway.
Roxas also announced Sunday afternoon that the divers found the flight plans and passenger manifest on the seabed 150 feet deep and about 500 meters from the shore.
He described it in his Twitter account as "first more definitive sign of location.”
Though the rescuers failed to get positive sign that Robredo and the plane pilots are still alive, Roxas said the operations will still be called "search and rescue."
Roxas said that President Benigno Aquino III, who personally supervised the rescue operations on Sunday, remains hopeful and positive that “we will be able to rescue Sec Jess.”
Robredo’s aide, Abrazado, was rescued Saturday and he is now recovering in a hospital in Masbate.
He told President Aquino, who personally checked on his condition Sunday, that the plane's right engine conked out 30 minutes after takeoff at Mactan International Airport in Cebu.
"Nung nakita na niya na magso-short sila ng runway, niyakap na niya si Secretary Jess at sinigurado niya na ang kanilang mga seatbelt ay nakatali, tapos yun na nga tumama na sila sa tubig at nawalan siya ng malay. Tumama yung ulo niya sa upuan sa harap niya, may punit nga yung labi niya," Roxas said in a radio interview.
"Nung nagkaroon siya ng malay, kinapkap niya kasi seatmate niya si Sec. Jess pero di na niya mahanap at hindi rin niya matanggal ang kanyang seat belt so lumangoy siya palabas ng cabin. Nung nagkamalay kasi siya, halos dibdib na niya ang tubig sa loob ng cabin," he added.
Roxas said the divers will use trimix, a mixture of nitrogen, helium and oxygen at the resumption of the dive operations on Monday. (Sunnex/With PNA)