MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippines on Saturday evening, August 18, accepted help from the United States government in search and rescue operations for Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and his companions after their plane crashed off Masbate.
The plane carrying Robredo and three others, including the pilots, crashed on its way to the Masbate airport at 4:30 p.m.
In a 9 p.m. update on Twitter, Transporation Secretary Mar Roxas said the US offered to help through US Naval Attache Captain Jack Sutherland. The US government has a fleet survey team in Cavite that is going to the crash site, Roxas said.
He said the crash site is 200 meters from the shoreline. Surface search and rescue operations are now ongoing, he added. Roxas said the diving search has resumed using compressors as rescuers have obtained compressors from the area.
A Philippine navy vessel is already at the crash site aiding the effort, according to Masbate Mayor Socrates Tuason, who is part of the local rescue team.
Search ‘won’t stop’
The Philippine Coast Guard confirmed that search and rescue operations will continue tonight after being temporarily suspended earlier.
Philippine Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Algier Ricafrente told ANC that nearly a dozen boats would scour the area all night. He added that divers from Legazpi were already en route to Masbate to support the search tomorrow.
“We are not stopping our search and rescue operations even tonight,” said Ricafrente.
Many arms of society are aiding the efforts, from the Philippine National Police to local fisherman. “We’re in the middle of the ocean, surveying the waters. Many of us are here – the Coast Guard, the PNP, Bantay-Dagat, the fisherman. More than 50 people are here,” said Tuason.
So far only parts of the private plane have been found. “Fisherman recovered one of the wings of the airplane earlier,” he added.
“In front of the airport it looked like it was going to land but it didn’t,” said Tuason.
Robredo was on his way to Naga to celebrate the long weekend there with his family. – Rappler.com
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