By Rhaydz B. Barcia and Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY (23May2013/PNA) – After a second try amid a windy condition, helicopters of the Philippine Air Force in Bicol were able to land along the slope of Mayon, enabling rescuers to extricate the injured Russian national who fell along the gully of the volcano.
The successful search and rescue operation for Mark Yuchagaev, 28, a Russian mountaineer who climbed the volcano on Sunday morning through the Miisi trail in Daraga, Albay, without informing local authorities, was over after 32 hours of search and rescue operations mounted by the Albay provincial government.
Yuchagaev was extricated from Mt. Mayon’s Miisi gulley, the Albay Public Safety Emergency and Management Office (Apsemo) said Thursday.
Cedric Daep, Apsemo chief, said Yuchagaev was picked up by an Air Force chopper at about 4:10 p.m. and was flown to the Air Force Tactical Operation Group (TOG-5) compound where he was immediately brought to the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) here for medical treatment.
Daep said Yuchagaev was conscious but looked weak upon arrival at the airport.
“He was in pain after he broke his right ankle when he fell while climbing the slope,” he said.
Lt. Col. Pedro Francisco III, TOG 5 chief, said the rescue chopper first attempted to pick up the mountaineer at about 2:00 p.m. but failed due to strong winds and lack of safe landing spot.
Francisco said the second retrieval attempt at 3:00 p.m. was successful as the pilots were able to retrieve the mountaineer from the crater base, some 1,200 meters from the foot of the volcano.
The provincial government spent a big amount of money to save the life of a Russian tourist who violated its “no man’s land policy” imposed by Albay Governor Joey Salceda after four European mountaineers and a Filipino tour guide died on the spot when Mayon volcano exploded on May 7 without warning.
“Operation Mark,” Salceda said, involved five teams composed of 35 well-trained rescuers trying to save one Russian.
Francisco and Office of Civil Defense Bicol director Bernardo Alejandro led the air extrication of Yuchagaev, who was spotted via air reconnaissance conducted by Philippine Air Force air assets.
Air Force Captain Juji Grant Generalao, pilot in command, said they were not able to extricate Yuchagaev in their first attempt as heavy rains and strong winds got in the way.
As a result, the pilots aborted the air extrication as heavy clouds were beginning to blanket the spot where the Russian national was located.
Luckily, at 4:10 p.m. today, the Air Force helicopters were able to penetrate and land at the volcano where the rescuers immediately lifted up the body of Yuchagaev.
At 4:20 p.m., the rescue operation was over.(PNA)