The search and rescue mission for the “Yellow Bee” helicopter and its five passengers, which went missing in Balabac on March 1, has been expanded to Malaysian territory, according to Philippine Adventist Mission Aviation Services (PAMAS).
PAMAS said in a post on its official Facebook page on Monday that the Philippine Aviation Rescue Coordination Center (PARCC) had aligned with its Malaysian counterpart in Kota Kinabalu, and that their government had deployed five vessels and three aircraft, including a C130, “to conduct a search by air and water” today, March 7.
PAMAS also confirmed the arrival of a volunteer team and their equipment on Monday that will conduct sonar imaging at the possible crash site of the chopper, 35 nautical miles east of Balabac.
“We’re so thankful for Lau Dagum, a friend who was willing to come at the last minute with this very useful equipment! We hope this will help us find answers to the potential crash site,” the post stated.
Dagum is part of Antipara Explorations that does underwater mapping and analytics. She is currently doing her PHD on marine science.
Wendy Harris of PAMAS also confirmed that the team has started its sonar scanning in the area.
“They left this morning for the possible crash site,” Harris said in a text message.
The company also confirmed that the pair of shoes found by personnel of Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) of Balabac belongs to Janelle Alder, the medical evacuation nurse who was one of the passengers of the aircraft.
Meanwhile, Coast Guard District Palawan District Commander Captain Dennis Rem Labay said that despite the chopper missing for seven days already, their operation is still “search and rescue since we have not yet [exactly] pinpointed the crash site.
“Although there is a possible crash site which was identified through aerial surveillance, what we will do is check the area using the sonar and if something is detected, a group of volunteers will dive to verivy,” Labay said.
“The area is around 100-215 meters [deep] but we still have to check first. And until such time that we find the wreckage, our operation will continue to be search and rescue,” he added.