Wreckage of missing Philippine plane found with all aboard dead

Jojo Riñoza
Wreckage of missing Philippine plane found with all aboard dead Rescuers stand beside a helicopter as they prepare their search for passengers and crew of Cessna 340A aircraft that crashed on a slope of the Mayon Volcano, at Camalig town, Albay province, southeast of Manila, Feb. 21, 2023.
[Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines via AP]

Philippine search and rescue teams on Thursday found the wreckage of a plane missing since January with all six passengers on board dead. 

The Cessna light plane took off from a small airstrip in northern Isabela province on Jan. 24 for a short trip, but never made it to its destination, which the Associated Press news agency said was Maconacon town. 

Constante Foronda, head of the Isabela Incident Management Team (IMT), said rescuers found the aircraft’s wreckage in the northern Philippines, including the bodies of five passengers and the pilot. 

“Sadly, there were no survivors,” Foronda told an online press briefing Thursday. 

The families of the victims have been informed, he said. 

“They’re very sad but at least they already have closure,” Foronda said. 

The wreckage and the bodies were found by a team in the hinterland village of Ditarun, he said.

Authorities were waiting for photographs from the site, but initial descriptions revealed the plane had separated into several parts and some debris was hanging on trees, Foronda said. 

With the wreckage found, efforts have shifted to retrieval operations, he said.

“Our mode now is no longer rescue but retrieval. It took us 43 search days [to find the wreckage and the victims]. This is the 44th day since the day the plane disappeared,” Foronda said.

Engineer Ezekiel Chavez, chief of the Divilacan municipal disaster risk reduction and management office, said the victims were identifiable.

Chavez said team members first found a chair of the aircraft followed by other plane parts and clothes hanging on trees.

The discovery of the missing plane came more than a week after a medical helicopter carrying five people crashed in waters off Palawan province west of the country. 

Last month, four people including two Australians were killed when their light twin propeller Cessna 340A aircraft crashed on the slopes of the Mayon Volcano in the eastern Philippines.

In January, two air force pilots died when their plane crashed during a training flight.  

Jeoffrey Maitem in Davao and Roel Pareño in Zamboanga contributed to this report.


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