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Missing plane found in Mindoro Straight; no sign of passengers

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The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the wreckage of the Beechcraft Baron 55 trainer aircraft that went missing after its takeoff on Friday was located some 43.52 km. south of the Mindoro Straight.

However, the two passengers — Capt. Jose Nelson Yapparcon and student pilot, Abdullah Alsharif — are still missing.

“For the past three days, there were negative sightings of the aircraft. Today, several debris of that aircraft were found by a seaplane,” CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday afternoon.

According to CAAP, the trainer aircraft, operated by Orient Aviation Corp., took off from the San Jose Airport and went missing.

Apolonio said search and retrieval operation is ongoing, since the passengers have yet to be found.

“We could not say or assume they’re gone since we haven’t found their bodies. The plane fell into the sea, which is one of the deepest waters in the country,” he said.

The executive added that it would also be helpful for authorities to find the wreckage, especially the cockpit, for them to see if the pilot possibly escaped from the crash.

“The SOP (standard operating procedure) is we could not assume the passengers are already dead, unless we see their bodies. If we couldn’t find them, we might call off the operation, but still we could not say they’re gone,” Apolonio explained.

He said the search and retrieval operation is a joint effort among the Coast Guard, the Air Force, the operator, and CAAP. (PNA)