Searchers zero in on missing plane in Isabela

Artemio Dumlao - The Philippine Star
Searchers zero in on missing plane in Isabela
A handout photo from the Bureau of Fire Protection Region II taken and released on January 25, 2023, shows rescuers retrieving a body from a crashed plane in Pilar, Bataan, where two Philippine air force aviators were killed.
Handout / Bureau of Fire Protection Region II / AFP

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Rescuers are focusing their attention on Barangay Dicaruyan, a mountainous village of Divilacan town in Isabela province, as they continue their search for a Cessna plane that went missing last Tuesday.

This came after a farmer informed members of the search and rescue team that he saw a plane flying toward the Sierra Madre mountains on that day.

Constante Foronda, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief, said the information is consistent with other hints that include a passenger’s phone.

Barangay Dicaruyan is about 10 kilometers away from a cellsite in Maconacon town also in Isabela, the Cagayan provincial police office said.

A GMA News report said a white object was spotted in the barangay, although this could not be confirmed yet because of the difficulty in reaching the area due to inclement weather conditions.

Foronda said the possible location of the missing Cessna plane is already marked as “Site Alpha.”

Butch Bartolome, Maconacon disaster risk reduction management officer, said two helicopters from the Philippine Air Force and two drones as well as three teams from Divilacan town and one from Maconacon were deployed to conduct aerial and ground searches.

A team of rescuers from the municipal health office, the police and fire department were also deployed to Barangays Dicambangan, Sapinit and Dicaruyan – all in Divilacan town.

The missing Cessna plane had six persons on board, including the pilot Capt. Eleazar Mark Joven, when it took off from Cauayan airport Tuesday afternoon. It failed to reach its destination in Maconacon, Isabela.

The passengers were identified as Tom Josthle Manday, Val Kamatoy, Mark Eiron Siguerra, Xam Siguerra and Josefa Perla Espana.

On Thursday night, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to intensify the search and rescue efforts for the missing aircraft.

CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said the NOTAM BO391/23 covers the western and southern side of Naguilian town up to the northern and eastern side of the Maconacon airport – an area of about 1,000 square nautical miles – as a possible search and rescue area.

As of Thursday, flights from Cauayan and Maconacon airports were suspended due to bad weather and to give way tp the ongoing search and rescue operations. – Rudy Santos, Jun Elias, Ralph Edwin Villanueva, Michael Punongbayan

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