Date: February 4th, 1998
Operator: Cebu Pacific Air
Where: Claveria, Philippines
Report No.: Not Available
Report Date: -
This is not an accident investigation report.
CLAVERIA, Philippines - As rescuers struggled up steep mountain slopes toward
the crash site, helicopter pilots said Tuesday they saw no signs of life in
the scattered wreckage of a DC-9 aircraft with 104 people aboard.
In what appeared to be the worst plane crash in Philippine history, search
helicopters on Tuesday found the wreckage of the Cebu Pacific Air jetliner
near the summit of Mount Sumagaya, about 28 miles northeast of the plane's
The plane had been missing since it failed to land Monday morning in the
southern Philippine city of Cagayan de Oro.
Cebu Pacific had announced Tuesday morning that at least 15 people had
survived, quoting a local mayor who reported that villagers had spotted people
at the crash site. But the mayor later said he was unable to confirm that any
people were still alive.
``No survivor has been rescued,'' Claveria Mayor Antonio Calingin said.
Airline spokesman Larry Zurita said subsequent information received by the
airline indicated that ``the initial report might not be true.''
Rescue helicopters were unable to land near the remote site because of the
steep slope, and strong winds forced them to withdraw. The aerial rescue was
later suspended because of darkness.
``We did not see any big portion of the plane and we assume that it
exploded,'' said Col. Jacinto Ligot, commander of the rescue effort. ``We saw
debris but we did not see any moving human beings or any people around.''
In a helicopter flight near the crash site, a crater in the side of the
mountain looked as if it had been carved out by a meteor. Parts of the plane
appeared to have slipped hundreds of feet down the mountain into the thick
Ground rescue teams, including fingerprint experts sent to identify bodies,
also were forced to halt for the night after they were unable to find the
wreckage in the thick vegetation, Ligot said.
He said helicopters would attempt to drop smoke bombs on Wednesday to guide
rescuers to the site.
Air transportation officials said Tuesday the airplane was making a visual,
not instrument, landing approach when it crashed because it had made an
unscheduled stop at another airport to drop off a mechanic and supplies and
therefore was not on a normal flight path.
The plane was carrying 99 passengers, including five children, and five crew
when it disappeared. They included a Japanese, Swiss and Austrian, airline
The Japanese, Toru Nagata, was a teacher for the Japan International
Cooperation Agency, a Japanese government foreign assistance group, an agency
The Swiss, Rene Werren, was identified as a project supervisor for the Swiss
In the plane's last radio contact, the pilot said he was 42 miles from the
airport at an altitude of 11,500 feet and starting to descend. There was no
indication that the plane was in trouble.
Cebu Pacific, which began operations in March 1996, is one of several new
airlines established after the Philippine government deregulated the aviation
Update added 5th February 1998 - No Philippines Crash Survivors Found
CLAVERIA, Philippines - Battling rain, snakes and dense jungle, rescuers
finally reached the wreckage of a DC-9 airliner on a Philippine mountain today
- but found no sign of the 104 people who had been aboard the plane.
The army team, which due to the remote location arrived nearly two days after
the plane crashed, found pieces of seat cushions, scattered clothes and
business cards at the edge of a deep ravine, said Col. Jacinto Ligot.
Rescuers will try to climb down the ravine to search for bodies and more
wreckage, said Ligot, commander of the rescue effort. Pilots trying to lower
rescuers to the crash site were hampered by strong winds.
The twin-engine Cebu Pacific Air plane went down Monday nearly 30 miles
northeast of its destination, Cagayan de Oro, a southern Philippine city on
the island of Mindanao.
Ligot said 21 soldiers had reached the crash site near the peak of Mount
Sumagaya, a steep 7,260-foot ridge. More than 100 others were en route.
About 20 ambulances waited on a road at the foot of the mountain, as were some
relatives, who wept when they heard rescuers had reached the site.
Two communist rebel leaders offered in a radio interview to help in the
rescue. Ligot said they would be allowed to join if they were unarmed.
The airplane was making a visual, not instrumental, landing approach when it
disappeared, officials said. The plane had made an unscheduled stop at another
airport and was not on its normal flight path from Manila.
The plane carried 99 passengers and five crew members when it disappeared over
high mountains and deep ravines.
The plane's last radio contact was with the Cagayan de Oro airport tower 15
minutes before it was due to land. In that call, the pilot said he was 40
miles from the airport and was starting to descend. There was no indication
the plane was in trouble.