But the teams could only bring them to their base camp on Mayon, far from the center of town in Camalig, said Mayor Carlos Baldo Jr.
“We tried to send a chopper to fetch those on the mountain, but there was no chance to land (safely), so we planned to continue on foot. Weneed a new augmentation team because those up there are exhausted already,” Baldo said.
The rains on Sunday made the retrieval efforts more difficult, as there is no clear trail going down the volcano, the mayor added.
Officials of Energy Development Corp., which owned the plane and employed the victims of the crash, expressed hope of bringing down their colleagues’ remains soon.
“It’s been a long wait for all of us, it’s taking its toll especially to our rescuers,” Eduardo Jimenez, EDC Bacman Corporate Relations Department Head, said.
Rescuers already verified the bodies and documented the crash site,but the retrieval team also suspended operations on Thursday due to the loose soil and the fogginess in the area.
Baldo, the incident commander, confirmed that they have shifted from rescue to retrieval operation upon receiving information and photos confirming the bodies of the passengers.
The shift was made after a five-day full-blast search and rescue operations by the incident command center.
“The site has been seen, there is no life there, so we are in a retrieval operation. I hope the day ends today, and the family is also waiting. Even though we’ve been there, it’s not that easy to get down… because we saw how difficult the terrain is, the hardships of those who retrieved up there,” Baldo added.
“Rescue teams have kept up their retrieval operations yet are stillunsure of when and where exactly the cadavers can be safely dropped off due to Mayon’s tricky terrain,” he said.
Dr. Cedric Daep, Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency ManagementOffice (APSEMO) chief, said earlier they will mobilize another batchof responders to back up the 28-man team that first approached the crash site to complete the mission.
Daep also confirmed that the immediate family members of thepassengers, including the two Australian nationals, were informed about the status of the retrieval operation.
He added that the manner of retrieval still considered severalfactors, including the weather, the Mayon situation, and the pacing of the responders.
“With the full support of the EDC, all throughout, full force, fullsupport them in all resources including vehicles and the needs of the rescuers,” he said.
“We mourn the confirmed passing of our dear colleagues, Captain Rufino James Crisostomo Jr., Joel G Martin, Simon Chipperfield, and Karthi Santhanam, who were on board the Aircraft RP-C-2080 that was reported missing early Saturday morning shortly after taking off from the Bicol International Airport,” Richard B. Tantoco, President and Chief Operating Officer of EDC, said in a statement.
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