Aquino in Masbate to oversee rescue
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - President Benigno Aquino III flew to Masbate early on Sunday, August 19, to oversee the search and rescue operations for Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, pilot Jessup Bahinting, and Bahinting's student Kshitiz Chand.
According to a post on the President's official Twitter account, Aquino arrived at Masbate City's Moises R. Espinosa Airport on board a C-130 Philippine Air Force plane.
Aquino was with Secretaries Mar Roxas (transportation), Florencio Abad (budget), Voltaire Gazmin (defense), and Cavite Rep Joseph Emilio Abaya.
Also with them are Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado, Philippine National Police Chief Nicanor Bartolome, Philippine Coast Guard Commandant Edmund Tan, and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Jessie Dellosa.
Landing masbate onboard C130. PNoy to lead SaR efforts. | via— Official Gazette PH (@govph) August 18, 2012
Butch Robredo, the interior secretary's elder brother, and Sarah Bahinting, daughter of the owner/pilot of the ill-fated plane, are also in Masbate, the transport secretary said.
After an initial meeting with the search and rescue operations team, Aquino met with P/Senior Insp. Jun Abrasado, Robredo's aide, who is so far the only person rescued from the crash.
Abrasado is still confined at the Masbate Doctors Hospital. Roxas, who is the point person for the search and rescue operations, said Abrasado is "conscious," with a few injuries.
The survivor is under neurological observation, according to doctors, because he lost consciousness on Saturday. Roxas also said Abrasado is also a new father, after his wife gave birth to their baby 9 days ago.
Photos of Robredo's aide showed him wearing slings on both arms as he met the President.
'Calm waters, clear sky'
Both the Coast Guard and Civial Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) are under DOTC. Both members of the Liberal Party and Aquino's Cabinet, Roxas and Robredo are also very close.
Malacañang said the party will "personally observe the search and rescue effort" for Robredo, Bahinting, and Chand, who is Nepalese.
"Throughout the night, search and rescue operations for Secretary Jesse Robredo and party continued. More assets are being deployed this morning to intensify the search," Malacañang said.
The search and rescue operations are now based at the Lasala Beach Resort, just off the crash site. "Waters calm, sky clear which will help in ongoing SaR (search & rescue)," Roxas tweeted.
Masbate City Mayor Socrates Tuazon is spearheading the search and rescue.
At location, crash site w/in sight of beach, 500m & also w/in sight of end of runway. Waters calm, sky clear which will help in ongoing SaR.— Mar Roxas (@MARoxas) August 18, 2012
Help from Cebu, Okinawa
Underwater search and rescue efforts resumed at 5 am after being suspended late Saturday night, August 18.
As of 6 am, at least 115 personnel and volunteers from across the Bicol region have been mobilized for the search and rescue efforts, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in its latest bulletin.
Roxas said a team of around 30 divers are searching for the 3 persons.
He said the search operations are being done by quadrant, and they are taking into consideration other factors such as the water current.
He added assistance by the US government is already coming in from Okinawa, Japan.
The rescue teams are utilizing at least 25 seacraft, including more or less 10 civilian motor bancas, the NDRRMC said.
The coast guard is also deploying a helicopter, as well as its SARV-3504 coming from Cebu. The vessel is expected to arrive in the area at 12 noon Sunday.
Additional personnel and equipment arrived later in the day from the Philippine Navy, Philippine Air Force, and the Office of Civil Defense. These included divers with diving gear, inflatable boats, and several more vessels.
Roxas said the teams recovered a piece of the plane with the number 431 on it:
The plane carrying Robredo and three others, including the pilots, crashed on its way to the Masbate airport at 4:30 pm on Saturday. - Rappler.com
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