Teams looking for the missing “Yellow Bee” Alouette helicopter of the Philippine Adventist Mission Aviation Services (PAMAS), which went missing on March 1 in Balabac waters, are having a hard time because the weather in the area has been bad for the last few days.
The operation, which is now in its second week, has so far yielded nothing except for the fire extinguisher, pillow, and a pair of shoes that were found in the early days of the search.
PAMAS was using the missing helicopter as an air ambulance to pick up patients from far away places south of Palawan, especially in the hinterlands and islands. It was on its way to Brooke’s Point town after picking up a patient from the island barangay of Mangsee when it went missing. Aboard the aircraft were its pilot, Captain Daniel Lui, medical evacuation nurse Janelle Adler, Kayrun Nesa Sahibad (patient), and her relatives, Nastru Sahibad and Sug Hamja.
A week after conducting an extensive search in the waters around the area where the helicopter was last tracked, PAMAS said the search was extended to Malaysian waters after the Philippine Aviation Rescue Coordination Center (PARCC) reached out to its Malaysian counterpart in Kota Kinabalu, after which, their government deployed five naval vessels and three aircraft, including a C130, “to conduct a search by air and water.
A group from Metro Manila volunteered its services and brought equipment to conduct an underwater search using sonar imaging.
The group was able to perform sonar scanning on March 8, but the results yielded no significant findings.
The sonar scanning was, however, put on hold by the Philippine Navy the following day due to rough seas brought on by unfavorable weather conditions, and the team has yet to resume.
Wendy Harris of PAMAS said the team will try to resume the sonar scanning this coming Friday with the additional equipment that arrived.
“Currently, additional equipment is on the way to facilitate, if possible, better sonar-graphic imaging in the underwater search. While waiting on wind and waves to cooperate, the sonar team has been developing improved techniques to more adequately capture the data from deeper areas of the ocean floor. We are exploring other possibilities for further search as well,” PAMAS said in a post on its Facebook page.
“[They are] trying out the new equipment, and techniques, preparing for the next sonar expedition when the waves calm down,” Harris also said in a text message.