Night falls on Masbate as surface search continues

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Aug 19 2012 06:22 PM | Updated as of Aug 20 2012 04:14 PM

Robredo brother: We will accept his fate

MANILA, Philippines - It has been more than 24 hours since the plane carrying Interior and Local Government Secretary crashed into the waters off Masbate but search and rescue efforts continue.

Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas insists the operation is still “search and rescue” even as the darkness envelopes the area where the operations are ongoing.

He said the divers and aircrafts will rest this evening, with the intention of continuing work as soon as light breaks tomorrow. He also said strong current below the sea may prove dangerous for the divers.

He said, however, that the “surface search and rescue” will continue, with the help of the sonar equipment that will help check on the aberrations on the seabed.

So far only the manifest and a wing portion of the Piper Seneca have been found, although Roxas said the sonar equipment has detected several “things” further below but that “its shape and material could not yet be determined.”

The unknown objects have been tracked 200 feet below sea level, which could be identified via the help of the divers.

Roxas also said help has poured in as to where authorities can source additional equipment for the divers, including trimix support, which is a mix of nitrogen, helium and oxygen breathing gas.

The focus tomorrow will be at the area where the manifest was found earlier this afternoon. This was also the near the area where Robredo’s aide, Jun Abrazado, was found after their plane crashed on Saturday.

“We will look for the wreckage. We will also look for the survivors or victims, as the case may be,” Roxas said.

Besides Robredo, authorities are also looking for the plane’s pilot Capt. Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese co-pilot Kshitiz Chand.

Meanwhile, Robredo’s brother Butch was also on site, waiting for news about the Cabinet secretary. Visibly distraught, he said they will accept whatever fate will befall his younger brother.

President Benigno Aquino III has promised the family that the will find Robredo.

Meanwhile, Roxas would not comment if Aquino is staying in Masbate for the night. “For security, we won’t comment on that,” he said.

Aquino went to Masbate first thing Sunday morning and ordered the full force of government to search for Robredo and his colleagues. – with reports from Edwin Sevidal, dzMM