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Bodies of plane crash victims brought down from Mt. Mayon

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY – Mayor Carlos Irwin Baldo Jr. of Camalig town, Albay province officially terminated Thursday night the retrieval operation for the bodies of the four plane crash victims after the remains were safely brought down Mt. Mayon in Barangay Anoling of the town.

In a statement, Baldo, the commander of the incident management team, said the search and rescue operations for the Cessna 340A passengers ran for several days until the efforts were shifted from rescue to retrieval, following the confirmation of the bodies’ actual location, identity and situation.

“After 13 days of intensive and exhausting operations, responders composed of mixed mountaineers, local guides, the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG), the Philippine Army, Bureau of Fire Protection - Special Rescue Force (BFP-SRF), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were able to search, retrieve, and safely drop off and secure the bodies of all the four onboard Cessna 340A under the direct supervision of the Incident Management Team (IMT),” he said.

The bodies of Rufino James T. Crisostomo Jr., the pilot; Joel G. Martin, mechanic; and the two Australian passengers -- Simon Chipperfield and Karthi Santanan -- are set to be turned over to the Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) for further investigation.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Camalig, Albay Mayor Carlos Irwin Baldo Jr. officially terminates on Thursday the retrieval operation for the bodies of four plane crash victims after these were retrieved and safely brought down Mt. Mayon. The remains are set to be turned over to the Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) for further investigation. (Photo from Camalig Mayor Baldo’s Facebook page)

Baldo thanked the responders for their selfless efforts and courage, having put their own lives on the line and stood up to the challenges surrounding the first and hopefully, the last aviation tragedy in Camalig.

“Amid the steep slopes of Mayon, rockfall events, fogginess, strong winds, loose, damp, and slippery soils, and the risk of a possible phreatic eruption, the responders pushed through to accomplish one of Albay’s most arduous whole-of-government and whole-of-society, high-angle search and retrieval mission to date. These are the brave mountaineers from the Albay Climbing Community (ACC), Mayon Mountaineers, Federation of Bicol Mountaineers Inc., Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines, Inc., and the Wilderness Search and Rescue (WISAR), local guides, Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Army, Energy Development Corporation (EDC), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine Air Force (PAF), Philippine Navy, and other volunteers,” he said.

The mayor also said the recent accomplishment was achieved through the collective and well-coordinated efforts of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), EDC, Tactical Operations Group (TOG) 5, SOCO, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and Albay Provincial Safety, Emergency, and Management Office (APSEMO) whose personnel hade been very active throughout the 13-day operation.

“The Cessna 340A operations brought forth new challenges in terms of local incident response and the local government, along with partner public and private agencies deem it imperative to take in and utilize what they have learned to improve further the efforts toward disaster risk reduction and management. Even so, what the Cessna 340A operations truly highlighted was the Bikolanos’ undying resilience, faith, camaraderie, and hope especially amid great adversity. Apart from the determination of the teams operating administratively and on the actual field, the Energy Development Corporation has further fueled the operations in a robust stride, providing daily supplies of food, water, equipment and other augmentation since day 1, for their four colleagues and families,” he added.

Baldo also offered the local government’s sympathies to the bereaved families and friends of the crash victims.

“In light of this development, the Cessna 340A search and retrieval operations are hereby terminated - The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council (MDRRMC) Operations Center (OpCen) remains in operations 24/7 as usual,” he said. (PNA)


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