LOOKING FOR SIGNS OF LIFE A rescue team from the military is scouring the northern part of Sierra Madre mountain ranges in Isabela province to search for the missing Gen AV Cessna 206 and its six occupants in this photo taken on Thursday. Authorities said they are still hopeful that the aircraft safely landed in the forest after it went off radar on Tuesday afternoon. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PHILIPPINE ARMY'S 5TH INFANTRY DIVISION
CAUAYAN CITY — A long-range drone used by a search team looking for the missing Cessna plane and its pilot and five passengers in Isabela province detected a "white object" in a remote forest in Divilacan town on Thursday, raising hope it was the distressed aircraft, authorities said on Friday.
At a press briefing, Constante Foronda, Isabela provincial disaster risk reduction management officer, said the area in Divilacan's Barangay Dicaruyan matched the location pinpointed by a farmer near the place who reported seeing the plane make a "loop downward" around the time it disappeared from radar.
Foronda said the farmer saw the plane, which matched the description of the missing six-seat Gen AV Cessna 206, heading for the Pacific Ocean before it swirled toward the Sierra Madre mountain range on Tuesday afternoon.
RP-C1174 Cessna took off from Cauayan Airport at 2:16 p.m. on Tuesday and was to arrive at Maconacon Airport at 3 p.m. that day. But airport personnel said the plane went off radar an hour after leaving Cauayan. Four of the passengers were to attend a relative's wake in Maconacon.
Citing reports from the search team, Foronda said the forest in Dicaruyan would be considered as "site Alpha," or a priority area.
He said the possible location of the aircraft was 10 kilometers from the cell site where the last mobile phone signal from one of its passengers was logged.
According to Foronda, the search team was "eager" to reach the remote forest on Friday, but poor weather conditions prevented the Philippine Air Force from deploying two helicopters for the search.
"It will also take a four-hour walk from the village road to reach the possible location within the forests of the Sierra Madre," Foronda said.
He said a medical triage was set up at Maconacon Airport in case the plane's occupants would be found safe.
"That is how optimistic we are, and we presumed that the plane landed safely," Foronda added.
He said food packs would be immediately dropped from the helicopters once the search team could confirm there were survivors, noting that it would be difficult to find a landing area in the mountains of Dicaruyan.
"We are hopeful that the plane's pilot and passengers survived, and we can only tell otherwise if we finally see them," he said.
The plane was piloted by Capt. Eleazar Mark Joven. His passengers were identified as Val Kamatoy, 34; Kamatoy's nephews Rom Josthle Manday, 15, and siblings Mark Eiron Siguerra, 20, and Xam Siguerra, 10; and Josefa Perla Espana.
Cessna plane goes missing in Isabela
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