Search on for 4 missing on Philippines active volcano after plane crash
Manila, Feb 21 (EFE).- Emergency teams were on Tuesday continuing their search for a small plane that crashed over the Mayon volcano in northern Philippines on Saturday, with the operation deemed risky due to the risk of an eruption, local authorities said.
Emergency services in Camaliq, situated in the Albay province, said that the teams began to climb Mayon on Monday and may not reach the accident site until Wednesday.
It is not known whether the plane’s occupants – a Filipino pilot and mechanic and two Australian passengers – are dead or alive, although aerial photos of the accident appeared to show a destroyed plane.
The national emergency services told local media that several mountaineers who are experts in the Mayon volcano had joined the search.
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, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) spokesperson Eric Apolonio said on Tuesday.
People onboard the plane included pilot Rufino James Crisostomo Jr, mechanic Joel Martin, and Australians Simon Chipperfield and Karthi Santhanam, both of them consultants with Philippine company Energy Development Corporation (EDC).
CAAP said on Tuesday that the crashed plane was at an altitude of 1,070-1,200 meters on the western side of the volcano, which has a maximum height of 2,400 meters.
Apolonio said that the authorities had located the plane’s fuselage after flying a drone with a high-resolution camera.
Mayon is the most active volcano in the Philippines and witnessed its last eruption in 2019.
The director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology (Philvocs), Teresito Bacolcol, warned on Tuesday that the volcano could spew toxic gases or volcanic rocks.
The mountain has been put on level 2 of a 4-level volcanic alert system since Oct. 7, which shows the possibility of “phreatic eruption or even precede hazardous magmatic eruption.”
Since then, Philvocs has registered 20 volcanic earthquakes and 21 episodes of volcanic rocks falling at Mayon. EFE