The online news portal of TV5
The chartered plane that carried Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo was still intact when it landed on water before it went under the sea, members of the Philippine Red Cross Masbate chapter said.
Amparo Perez, Red Cross Masbate administrator, told InterAksyon.com that one of their board of directors saw the Piper Seneca flying abnormally low when it was less than a kilometer away from the province's airport.
"Mababa na ang lipad ng eroplano, pabulusok," she said over the phone. (The aircraft was already flying at a low altitude as if it was going for a nosedive.)
Planes approaching the Masbate airstrip fly low to prepare for landing but what made the aircraft’s approach unusual was that "nasa gitna pa lang ng dagat, mababa na," Perez said. (It was already flying low when it was still right above the sea.)
Red Cross was then summoned to the site when it received a distress call and was told that the plane was already approaching the airstrip.
The four-seater plane did not make it when it was only 200 to 300 meters away from the airstrip, the local Red Cross official said.
The Red Cross team was already undergoing the search and rescue operations within 30 minutes after the distress call was made.
Fishermen and the Red Cross even had seen the plane floating and still intact when they plucked Senior Inspector Jhun Abrasado, Robredo's aide, from the sea, Perez said.
A fisherman told Red Cross officials that the Piper Seneca leaned to one side and "umangat pa yung pakpak" (its wing was upended) before quickly disappearing into the sea. Robredo and the two pilots were nowhere to be found, rescuers said.
"May current kaya nahihirapan at kung may debris or survivors, pwedeng madala sila sa west part ng Masbate o sa dulo ng Ticao Island," Perez said. She said the crash site was between the main island of Masbate and Ticao island, which was 400 meters to 500 meters away from the airstrip.
"Nagsasalubong ang dagat dun," Perez said.
Earlier, Ronnie Nadal of the Masbate City government said parts of the plane have been recovered.
"Masyadong marami 'yung parts na nakuha sa dagat. Yupi-yupi talaga siya (There were so many parts recovered from the sea. They were really bent and twisted)," he said.
Meanwhile, Robredo's aide who possibly suffered a fracture went out again with a sling on his right arm to help rescuers, Perez said.
Some rescue team members commented on Facebook that they were surprised to learn from the survivor that one of the passengers was a Cabinet member. They thought it was just a "small accident".
Other eyewitnesses also said that when the plane took the final turn to finally make its touchdown, it was already nearly in front of the airport.