HomeOutdoorsNewsFour Presumed Dead After Plane Crashes Into Active Volcano

Four Presumed Dead After Plane Crashes Into Active Volcano

by Caitlin Berard
Mayon Volcano, Site of the Deadly Plane Crash
(Photo by Frederic Desmoulins via Getty Images)

Authorities identified the remains of a small plane crash Tuesday on the Philippines’ most active volcano. The plane was carrying two Filipino pilots and two Australian passengers, all four of whom are presumed dead.

A preliminary aerial search found no sign of the passengers or pilots aboard the six-seater Cessna 340, which went missing after department Bicol International Airport Saturday en route to Manila, according to aviation officials. The plane then crashed into a gully on the slope of Mayon, a highly active volcano with recorded eruptions dating back over 400 years.

“The condition of the crew and passengers are not yet known as the exact site has not yet been reached by the search and rescue team due to bad weather,” the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said in a statement.

Investigators reportedly spotted the wreckage at an altitude of about 6,000 feet following three aerial searches Tuesday morning that failed due to thick cloud cover. Crews were forced to abandon attempts to lower rescue teams to the crash site by helicopter as well because of the inclement weather.

Multiple Rescue Crews Dispatched to Volcano in Search for Plane Crash

The Australian passengers – identified as Simon Chipperfield and Karthi Santhanam – were working for a geothermal power company. Their former employers deployed rescue teams equipped with helicopters and drones to aid in the search and rescue mission.

“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 power company’s assistant vice president and spokesman, told CNN.

Mayor Carlos Baldo dispatched local search crews as well. Four teams of government personnel and volunteers, consisting of more than 200 personnel, 34 vehicles, 11 drones, and four K9 dogs, were deployed to assist in the operation.

Search crews began scaling the 8,077-foot volcano on Tuesday morning. Baldo expects them to reach the plane crash site on Wednesday. “It’s a difficult mission,” the mayor explained.

Mount Mayon is a Difficult and Dangerous Climb

While scaling the volcano, rescue crews will contend with the inclement weather plaguing the area. Additionally, however, they will face steep, treacherous terrain and the ever-looming threat of Mayon before reaching the plane crash.

George Cordovilla is one of the mountaineers making their way up the volcano toward the plane crash. He’s climbed Mayon several times in the past and confirmed it was an exceedingly difficult trek. “It could easily erode and trigger rockfalls, even if there’s no eruption. Some are caused by wind, water, or rain,” he said.

Another Cessna plane crashed near the volcano on January 24. Officials have yet to find the wreckage.

Mayon last erupted in 2018, displacing thousands of residents as it shot plumes of ash and lava into the air. Because of the volcano’s unpredictable nature, officials established a permanent danger zone 3.7 miles around the mountain. Villagers may not enter this area, but the local government made exceptions for rescue crews.