June 16, 2024

Bicol Express News

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Mission accomplished, Mayor Baldo officially terminates Cessna 340A operations

Photo: Caloy Baldo

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 4 onboard Cessna 340A under the direct supervision of the Incident Management Team (IMT).

The search and rescue operations for Cessna 340A ran for more than 5 days until operations were shifted from rescue to retrieval, following the confirmation of the 4 passengers’ actual location, identity, and situation.

Photo: Caloy Baldo

The bodies of Pilot, Rufino James T. Crisostomo Jr., Mechanic, Joel G. Martin, and the 2 Australian passengers, Mr. Simon Chipperfield and Mr. Karthi Santanan are set to be turned over to the Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) for further investigation.

Mayor Caloy likewise expresses gratitude to the selfless efforts and the courageous hearts of the responders who have put their lives on the line and stood up to the challenges surrounding Camalig’s first and hopefully, the last aviation tragedy.

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.

Photo: Caloy Baldo

The recent accomplishment was achieved through the collective and well-coordinated efforts of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction & 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) who have been very active throughout the 13-day operation.

The Cessna 340A operations brought forth new challenges in terms of local incident response, opting LGU-Camalig, along with partner public and private agencies 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 Bikolano’s 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, all for their 4 colleagues and families.

Mayor Caloy further offers LGU-Camalig’s sympathies to the bereaved families and friends of the 4 crash victims, reiterating his sustained vow of not giving up on the search and retrieval of the 4 bodies.

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 operations 24/7 as usual.