The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - A Masbate town mayor saw the Piper Seneca carrying Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo "flying abnormally" about half an hour before it crashed Saturday afternoon.
Cauayan Mayor Edgar Condor told News5 in a phone interview that the plane was making a strange sound as it flew past his town around 4 p.m.
The plane crashed around 4:30 p.m. in waters 500 meters off the runway of the Masbate City airport, where it had attempted to make an emergency landing.
"Nakita namin ang eroplano parang bumaba, parang helicopter na, hindi na eroplano (We saw the plane and it looked like it was losing altitude, sounding like a helicopter and not a plane)," he said. “Parang abnormal na ang lipad niya, pababa ng pababa (It was already flying abnormally and steadily losing altitude)."
Cauayan town is some 57 kilometers from the crash site, the mayor said.
The Piper Seneca, owned by Aviatour, was supposed to fly to Naga City in Camarines Sur form Cebu City.
It was piloted by Jessup Bahinting, Aviatour chairman and CEO. His co-pilot was identified Kshitiz Chand, a Nepalese.
Robredo and the two pilots remain missing.
The secretary's aide, Senior Inspector Jhun Abrasado survived and was rescued.
On its website, Aviatour offers professional pilot training, charters, aircraft sales and maintenance services.
It has a fleet of more than 35 aircraft and offices in Cebu and in Texas, USA.