LONDON – Philippines plane crash: Four occupants of a light twin-engine aircraft which is crashed near an active volcano in the Philippines are presently missing, feared dead.
According to the Philippines Information Agency (PIA), wreckage appearing to belong to the twin piston engine Cessna 340 has been sighted on Mount Mayon in the countries Albay province.
The aircraft had departed Bicol International Airport on Saturday morning bound for Manila, however all radio contact was lost with the aircraft shortly afterwards.
According to the report of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the Cessna had departed Bicol International Airport at 6:43 AM bound to Metro Manila.
The last radio contact was made around 6:48AM, after which there was no further response. This was last recorded by CAAP Bicol tower at an altitude of 2600 ft in Camalig Cement Plant in Anoling, Camalig Albay.
According to the Australian national broadcaster ABC News, two of the men aboard the six-seater twin-engine aircraft were Australian residents. The Australian pair were said to be former employees of the Australian gas producer Santos.
Also aboard were the aircraft pilot and one other crew member. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) was made aware of the situation.
The Philippines Information Agency has made the following statements on their social media channel:
“Video and photo footage was captured this Sunday, around 2:00 PM in the afternoon of the almost crushed part of an aircraft in the upper part of Anoling Gulley, which is 350 meters from the crater of the volcano and an altitude of 1,600 feet.”
“Its passengers have still not been found. In Barangay Anoling, the cellphone signal of one of the passengers was detected around 10:00 PM this Saturday.”
According to the PIA, 162 personnel are currently deployed in the search and rescue operation. There are 108 on standby and 23 in the Emergency Operations Center.
Aside from the local responders, other national government agencies have also sent more help to intensify and expand the ongoing search and rescue operations.
Update 08:25 UTC
The Philippines aviation regulatory body, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), is currently investigating the reason why the aircraft was flying Mayon Volcano region, which is a designated ‘blowfly ‘no-fly’ area.
CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio has noted in a public briefing: “That’s why we are also determining why the plane was found there because before planes are given a permit to fly, there’s a note prohibiting them from flying over the Mayon Volcano area as it is a no-fly zone.”
Wreckage from the crashed aircraft was found within Mayon’s 6-kilometer permanent danger zone (PDZ).
Update Tuesday 21 February
The Philippines aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has just issued a statement confirming the positive identification of aircraft wreckage suspected to be that of a Cessna 340 which went missing on the weekend.
The CAAP confirmed that its aircraft accident investigation and enquiry board (AAIIB) which was part of the search for the missing aircraft “has positively identified the aircraft wreckage.”
“The wreckage site is located at the west side slope of Mayon Volcano at an elevation of 3500 to 4000 feet. The wreckage was identified using a high resolution camera,” the statement read.
At this point there is no word on the four persons who were aboard the aircraft – two crew and two passengers. Due to bad weather conditions, rescue team personnel have not yet reached the site of the crash.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.