Wreckage of missing chopper in Philippines found, three dead (Lead)

April 8th, 2009 - 4:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Manila, April 8 (DPA) Philippine rescuers Wednesday found the wreckage of a helicopter carrying senior staff of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that crashed in a northern mountainous village, killing at least three people, officials said.
The Bell 412 helicopter, carrying five passengers, two pilots and another crew member, went missing Tuesday while on its way to Banaue town in Ifugao province, 270 km north of Manila, from the nearby mountain resort city of Baguio.

Ifugao Governor Teodoro Baguilat Jr said a team of police officers, village officials and rescue volunteers found the wreckage in a forested area in the mountainous village of Eheb in Tinoc town.

“The search for survivors is ongoing,” he said.

“Three people were found dead, but the others are missing,” Tinoc Mayor Lopez Tugong said.

Tugong said the identities of the fatalities were not yet determined.

“According to residents, the helicopter crashed and exploded in an area in Tingoc,” Tugong told a Manila radio station.

The passengers included Press Undersecretary Jose Capadocia, Appointments Secretary Malou Frostrom, Air Force Brigadier General Carlo Clet, a senior military aide of Arroyo, an assistant secretary of the presidential management staff and Clet’s aide.

The officials were on their way to Banaue as an advance team for a scheduled visit by Arroyo Wednesday. The trip was cancelled and senior aides said the president was “shaken” by the news of the missing chopper.

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