Rescuers climb Philippine volcano after plane wreckage spotted

Mount Mayon in Philippines where rescue teams are ascending the volcano to find a plane wreckage
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Philippines authorities have launched a search mission to scale a volcano, which last erupted in 2018, after the wreckage of a small plane was spotted atop.

France 24 reported that following a reconnaissance flight, civil investigators confirmed that the wreck was that of a small plane that lost contact with air traffic control on February 18, 2023.

Onboard the six-seater Cessna 340 aircraft were two Australians, Simon Chipperfield and Karthi Santhanam, and a Filipino pilot and crew member.

Both Chipperfield and Santhanam were technical consultants for Manilla-based Energy Development Corporation. It is not known if any of those onboard survived the crash.

“It’s now the fourth day since they’ve gone missing, and considering the terrain and harsh weather, it’s a difficult and challenging situation […] we continue to hope and pray that we will locate them,” Allan Barcena, the company’s assistant vice president and spokesperson, told CNN on Tuesday.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) confirmed the aircraft was on the western side of the volcano, about “3,500 to 4,000 feet” above sea level.

The conditions on the volcano are said to be extremely dangerous and the journey to reach the crash site is a “very risky operation.”

The mission involved 200 personnel plus 34 vehicles, 11 drones and four K9 dogs, the state-run Philippine News Agency reported.

In a photo, understood to have been taken before rescuers began to ascend the volcano, several people in military uniforms can be seen.

“Our thoughts are with the families, friends and loved ones of all those affected. We thank local authorities for their tireless efforts,” tweeted HK Yu, the Australian ambassador to the Philippines.

The volcano, known as Mount Mayon, is considered the most active volcano in the Philippines.

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