Rescuers still hope for survivors in Albay plane crash

LEGAZPI CITY (PNA) – The provincial government of Albay is still thoroughly conducting search and rescue operation to locate the four passengers of the Cessna 340 aircraft which was reported missing on Saturday, Feb. 18, and found on Sunday, Feb. 19, at the crash site near Mayon Volcano in Camalig town.

In a briefing on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Dr. Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), said they are not discounting the possibility that the pilot, Capt. Rufino Crisostomo Jr., his crewman Joel Martin, and two Australian passengers, Simon Chipperfield and Karthi Santanan, are still alive.

Around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Albay Gov. Edcel Grex Lagman ordered the APSEMO to mobilize composite air and ground assets to take advantage of the good weather.

In a statement, Lagman said the province could not afford to prolong the agony not only of the families of the missing passengers but also of the rescuers and volunteers.

"The province also commits its full support to fast-track the search and rescue, especially now that it is on its fourth day of operation. The province remains committed 100 percent in giving support to the best of our ability and capacity," he said.

Daep headed the aerial assessment briefing before the search and rescue team flew near the crash site which is 6,500 feet above sea level, or approximately 350 meters from the crater of Mayon Volcano.

"The ground team will wait for further instructions after the aerial survey to plan out and determine the next action to take considering the risks posed by Mayon Volcano's present Alert Level 2 status," Daep said during the briefing at the Tactical Operation Group (TOG5) office.

Earlier, he coordinated with the composite ground search and rescue team composed of the local government unit (LGU) of Camalig, PGA-APSEMO, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bicol Regional Health Medical Center, and mountaineers supported by chopper and logistics from Tactical Operation Group-5 (TOG5), Energy Development Corp. (EDC), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) with the instruction to immediately accomplish the mission.