Manila, Feb 23 (EFE).- The bodies of the four passengers traveling aboard a small plane that crashed over the Mayon volcano in northern Philippines, have been found after a days-long complicated operation due to the risk of an eruption and bad weather.
“We have found the four bodies at the site of the accident,” Tin Florence, from the Camalig emergency operation center in Bicol, the province where the volcano is located, told EFE.
The victims include the plane’s pilot, Rufino James Crisostomo Jr., mechanic, Joel Martin, both Filipinos, and Australians, Simon Chipperfield and Karthi Santhanam, who were working as consultants for the Philippine company, Energy Development Corporation (EDC).
The Cessna 340 aircraft crashed on its way to Manila on Saturday near the crater on top of Mayon, barely minutes after taking off from the Bicol province.
Emergency services had been searching for the missing passengers near the crater of the volcano – one of the most active in the Philippines – in an operation deemed risky due to the danger of eruption, lack of visibility and bad weather in the area.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who is visiting Fiyi, expressed her “deepest sympathy” for the victims’ families.
“On behalf of the Australian government I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to the families of the two men – Simon Chipperfield and Karthi Santhanam, both from Adelaide … as well as the Filipino nationals involved,” she said.
The wreckage of the Cessna plane was found about 350 meters from the Mayon crater – which has a height of 2,421 meters – on Sunday.
The rescue teams, which included several local expert mountaineers in the area, began climbing the volcano on Tuesday, after helicopters failed to lower them to the crash site due to adverse weather conditions. EFE