MANILA (UPDATED) — A medical evacuation flight with 5 persons aboard was reported missing Wednesday morning, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said.
The helicopter took off at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday to pick up a female patient, who complained of abdominal pain, in Mangsee Island in Balabac town in Palawan.
After fetching the patient, the aircraft left for Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital in Brooke's Point, Palawan, north of Mangsee Island.
But the helicopter went missing at around 9 a.m., the CAAP said in a statement.
It added that the medical evacuation flight — with registry no. N45VX and operated by Philippine Adventist Medical Aviation Services — was expected to arrive at 10:30 a.m. at the said hospital but lost contact.
Those on board the helicopter were the pilot, a nurse, the female patient, and her spouse and sibling, said Balabac disaster official Alsendre Hassan.
The CAAP said search and rescue operations are underway.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), meanwhile, said it has joined the search efforts and deployed BRP Malabrigo (MRRV-4402), focusing on the coastal waters off Brooke's Point and Balabac in Palawan.
The PCG also said the Philippine Aeronautical Rescue Coordinating Center has coordinated with them regarding the incident.
The helicopter is the third aircraft reported missing this year in the Philippines.
A Cessna 340 plane was reported missing on Feb. 18, after taking off from Bicol International Airport in Albay. The following day, it was reported found and later confirmed by the CAAP.
Another Cessna plane, which had gone missing after taking off from Cauayan, Isabela last Jan. 24, is yet to be found.
— with a report from Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News