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MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 4 - 5:08 p.m.) An Air Force major and a lieutenant are missing after the trainer plane they had taken up for a proficiency flight crashed off the coastal town of Mariveles, Bataan Friday morning.
Although the wreckage of the downed SF260FH “Warrior” was recovered near Lamonja Island in Cavite province, Navy and Coast Guard personnel continued to scour the waters off Mariveles for the missing pilots, identified by Northern Luzon Command spokesman Captain Aurelio Kigis as a Major Tumaning and a Lieutenant Arugay.
The aircraft had taken off from Sangley Point, Cavite, where the Air Force Air, Education and Training Command is based, at 6:52 a.m.
Soon after, Chief Petty Officer Efren Dichoso, chief of the Mariveles Coast Guard detachment, said fishermen reported the crash.
“According to the fishermen, the aircraft just tilted sideways and then it nosedives into the sea. They did not see anything like smoke or heard an explosion before impact,” he said.
Dichoso said the crash site, from where they recovered the plane wreckage around 7:30 a.m., was three nautical miles off Mariveles, in waters around 180 feet deep.
“We recovered a fuel tank, a pilot helmet and one of the seats of the plane,” Dichoso said.
The downed aircraft plane was among the 18 brand new basic trainer planes the Air Force bought from Italian supplier Aermachi for P621,671,409.60. The planes were delivered in two batches last year and early this year.
The Navy's BRP General Mariano Alvarez is continuing to search for the downed aircraft's crew, while the Coast Guard has deployed divers.