By Ben Cal
MANILA (19-Aug-12/PNA) – The aide of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo recalled on Sunday the horrifying moments before and during the time of impact when their light plane plunged into the sea off Masbate Saturday afternoon.
Police Senior Insp. Jun Abrazado said the impact rendered him unconscious for a while but he regained consciousness just in the nick of time to extricate himself from the aircraft before it finally went underwater.
Abrazado related the shocking episode on what transpired during the intense few moments inside the ill-fated plane before it crashed to President Benigno S. Aquino III, who flew to Masbate early Sunday morning to supervise the search-and-rescue operations for the missing plane with Robredo and two pilots on board.
Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II told radio station DZBB during a radio interview that Abrazado became unconscious when he hit his head against the seat in front of him but recovered just in time before the plane went down to the water some 60 feet deep.
Abrazado was able to unfasten his seat belt, then tried to loosen the seat belt of Robredo but to no avail.
Hovering between life and death as rushing sea water entered the plane, Abrazado struggled towards the aircraft’s door and got out just in the nick of time before the plane sank.
Abrazado recalled that 30 minutes after they took off from Mactan International Airport in Cebu Saturday afternoon, the plane developed engine trouble on its right engine.
The pilot determined whether they would turn back to Cebu but decided to proceed to land at Masbate airport which was nearer. Unfortunately, the plane continued to lose altitude as the pilot struggled to fly the aircraft to the airstrip which was only a kilometer away.
As the plane was approaching the runway some 500 meters away, the plane crashed to the sea before 5 p.m. Saturday.
Fishermen, who were in the area at that time, saw the ill-fated plane plunge into the sea.
By instinct, they immediately undertook rescue operation and plucked the injured Abrazado from the water. They brought him to the hospital.
After being treated of a broken arm, Abrazado insisted that he be brought to the crash site to help locate his boss and the two pilots who are still missing as of Sunday noon.
Search-and-rescue operations are in full blast as ordered by the President.
Rescuers have difficulty looking for the three missing people, including Secretary Robredo because of the strong current in the sea.
The Philippine Coast Guard has established a command post in the shoreline of Masbate to facilitate the rescue operation.
A sonar device arrived in Masbate Sunday morning from Cebu to help detect and trace the wreckage of the aircraft.
Rescuers have recovered some debris of the plane but there was no trace yet of Robredo and pilot Capt. Jessup Bahinting and his co-pilot Kshitiz Chand, a Nepalese.
Robredo was going to Naga City from Cebu to visit his family on his way to Manila when the tragedy happened. (PNA)