High risk volcano search for Philippine plane with 4 people on board

Manila, Philippines — Philippine authorities said Monday that they will verify whether the wreckage of a small plane found near the crater of a restless volcano is that of a Cessna plane that went missing over the weekend with four people on board.

The Manila-bound Cessna 340 took off from Albay province, southeast of the capital, on Saturday morning with two Filipino pilots and two Australian passengers, but has not been heard from since, the Philippine Civil Aviation Authority said.

The Australians worked for a geothermal power company, officials said.

Carlos Baldo, mayor of Camalig, Albay, and other officials told reporters Sunday that during an aerial search, authorities spotted the suspected wreckage, including its tail, scattered about 350 meters near the crater on the southwest slope of Mayon Volcano, but there. he did not refer to people.

Eric Apolonio, a spokesman for the government’s Civil Aviation Authority, said the agency’s experts and investigators were to examine the wreckage to determine if it was the missing Cessna, registration RP-C2080, and to determine the fate of the four people on board. .

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The ground search was hampered by rainy weather over the weekend, and if the weather clears on Monday, dozens of search and rescue personnel may cross the 8,077-foot (2,462-meter) Mayon. The research teams will be closely monitored by volcano experts and local officials, given the unrest at Mayon, one of the country’s 24 active volcanoes.

“This is a very risky operation,” Teresito Bacolcol, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, told The Associated Press. “It’s a race against time, a matter of life and death, but there’s also the risk of rockfalls and volcanic lahar.”

Rescue teams can enter a 6-kilometer (3.7 mi) permanent danger zone around the volcano because it is an “emergency situation”, but search and rescue must be carried out by well-trained professionals, supported by standby emergency and emergency response teams. made him aware of the high risks involved, Bacolcol said.

A popular tourist attraction for its near-perfect cone, Mayon last erupted in 2018, displacing tens of thousands of villagers.

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It is currently under the second of five volcanic alert levels, meaning volcanic earthquakes, steam and gas emissions, ground deformation, and periodic ash and steam explosions have been observed sporadically. Alert five means a large and deadly volcanic eruption is underway.

Separately, a single-engine Cessna plane went missing on Jan. 24 with six people aboard in Isabela province in the northern Philippines. Officials said the plane’s take-off and landing would continue depending on the weather in Isabela, a remote mountainous hinterland.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/high-risk-volcano-search-philippine-plane-4-onboard-97327405