Co-pilot’s body found floating-A A +A
Friday, August 24, 2012
TASK Force Kalihim ended its search and retrieval operations after the body of Kshitiz Chand, the Nepalese co-pilot of the ill-fated Piper Seneca, was recovered yesterday morning.
Kshitiz’s body was found floating near the crash site. Kshitiz, 22, was wearing a white shirt with a pin of Aviatour Fly’N Inc.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Kshitiz was found by a local fishing vessel, mv Cooperative.
Kshitiz’s father confirmed it was his son.
Gazmin said that with the search and retrieval done, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is taking over the crash site to investigate the cause.
President Benigno Aquino III, who was informed of the developments, commended the Task Force, Gazmin said.
The search and retrieval operation was concluded five days after the twin-engine light plane carrying Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo crashed into the waters off Masbate.
Robredo’s body was retrieved Tuesday morning, while that of Aviatour Fly’N Inc. owner and chief pilot Capt. Jessup Bahinting was recovered Wednesday afternoon.
Technical divers retrieved Bahinting inside the fuselage. Chand, who was seated beside Bahinting being the co-pilot, was not in it.
Robredo’s aide, Senior Inspector June Paolo Abrazado, survived the crash.
Masbate Gov. Rizalina Lanete said yesterday Kshitiz’s father asked for the Philippine Government’s help in bringing his son’s body to Nepal.
Defense Secretary Gazmin assured the Chand family that the government will do so.
Lanete told Sun.Star Cebu that retired colonel Tek Chand, father of Kshitiz, was emotional, especially when the body was identified as his son’s.
She said the father understands why his son was the last to be retrieved.
In a separate interview yesterday, Aviatour’s human resources manager Michelle Ferol said their company will shoulder the expenses in sending Kshitiz’s body to Nepal. They will also pay for the airfare of his father and uncle who arrived in Cebu last Sunday to help in the search and rescue operations.
“Although he is not our employee, this is one way of extending our sympathies and condolences to them,” she said.
Ferol said that because Kshitiz is Hindu, his body will be cremated as soon as it arrives in Nepal and his ashes buried.
Kshitiz came to Cebu last year to train under Bahinting.
He studied at the Aviatours Flying School and graduated last year.
The bodies of Bahinting and Kshitiz were brought to St. Peter’s Funeral Homes yesterday.
Following the crash Saturday afternoon, government officials led by President Aquino launched a massive search and rescue operation.
On Tuesday, technical divers found the fuselage of the plane 800 meters from the shores of Masbate and at a depth of 180 feet.
Divers also retrieved the body of Robredo on the same day.
Retrieval operations for the remains of Bahinting and Chand were delayed last Wedneday due to strong underwater current in Masbate.
Bahinting was retrieved Wednesday afternoon. His remains were flown to Cebu City early yesterday morning.
Also last Wednesday, Aviatour’s fleet was grounded pending an investigation by a government panel.
Bahinting had nearly four decades of flight experience. He was a pastor and a regular volunteer in disaster relief operations. (Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 24, 2012.