By Ben Cal
MANILA (18-Aug-12/PNA) – An eyewitness described how the plane carrying Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and three others plunged into the sea of Masbate City Saturday afternoon.
In an interview with radio station DZMM, Jojo Sancho, a government employee in Masbate, said the plane’s wing broke off before it crashed off Masbate Bay.
Sancho said he told his wife to immediately call the police to conduct a rescue operation.
Police Sr. Inspector Jun Abrazado, Robredo’s aide, was able to jump off from the aircraft before it crashed into the sea.
Abrazado was rescued by fishermen in area near the crash site.
But Robredo and the two pilots of the six-seater Piper Senica aircraft, with registry number RP-431, were still missing as of Saturday night.
CAAP director general William Hotchkiss said in GMA-7 News that the ill-fated plane was owned by the pilot, Capt. Jessup Bahinting. Bahinting’s co-pilot is Kshitiz Chand, a Nepalese.
A massive rescue operation is underway.
Robredo came from Cebu City and was en route to Naga City when their plane suffered an engine trouble and crashed into the seawater of Barangay Isingan, Masbate City, or about 500 meters away from the runway of the Masbate Airport.
Sancho said the pilot seemed to have veered the aircraft away from the runway of Masbate Airport when it apparently developed engine trouble in midair and decided to make an emergency landing instead at sea, believing survivability would be greater.
He also said that the weather was fine at the time of the crash. (PNA)