Responders trek on the slopes of Mayon Volcano in the on-going Search and Retrieval Operation for the ill-fated Cessna 340A. | Photo from Sam Mabini of Team 1 Responders

The passengers of the missing Cessna 340A RPC1174 that crashed 350 meters near the crater of Mayon Volcano in Albay were confirmed dead by Camalig town mayor Caloy Baldo.

Baldo announced on Facebook around 7:00 a.m. Thursday that “efforts focused on Cessna 340A shall now shift from rescue to retrieval operations.”

Capt. Rufino James T. Crisostomo Jr., mechanic Joel G. Martin, and Australian citizens Simon Chipperfield and Karthi Santhanam were the passengers of the aircraft.

The first team of responders has already arrived at the scene of the incident, according to Baldo.

“A total of 28 responders are trekking, composed of six Bureau of Fire Protection-Special Rescue Force (BFP-SRF), nine mixed mountaineers, eight from the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), three from the Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) Philippines, and two local guides,” he said.

An official from the BFP-SRF revealed that the search and retrieval (SAR) team is having a hard time conducting their operation due to the terrain of the volcano.

“The more na lumalapit sila sa crash site, babagal ng husto ang mobility ng SAR teams because of the elevation ng slope more or less nasa 60 to 85 degrees halos malapit na yong ground very steep,” Chief Insp. Glenn Rodrigueza said.

“Sa mukha ng tao kaya they are now on the hardest and most dangerous area mga sunog na buhangin at malalaking bato na anytime pwede mag erode pag nagkamali ng approach. Kahit isang hibla ng damo wala nang nabubuhay in that area. Just to give you an idea kung gaano ka-affected ang mobility pag doon na sa itaas,” he added.

In the end, Rodrigueza said that he is confident that the responders can accomplish their task but asks the public for prayers for the safety of the team.