Unfavorable weather conditions have partially interrupted the search and rescue operation for the four missing passengers of the dive yacht M/Y Dream Keeper, which sank in the waters of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park on Sunday, according to an official from Western Command (WESCOM).
On the fifth day of the search and rescue operation, teams have yet to find any signs of the missing passengers.
Commander Ariel Coloma, WESCOM spokesperson, said that one of the Philippine Navy vessels deployed to the area had to briefly stop because of strong waves yesterday.
“One of our vessels BRP Felix Apolinario (PC-395) turned around and did not proceed to the area because the condition of the sea is not good. But it is still on standby and will proceed once weather turns good,” Coloma told Palawan News in a telephone interview.
WESCOM sent PC-395 to Tubbataha to reinforce BRP Carlos Albert (PC 375) which was first sent to conduct SAR operation.
Additionally, WESCOM has also deployed a Philippine Navy islander (PN) and Philippine Air Force (PAF) Sokol helicopter to conduct aerial search in Tubbataha, Coloma said.
The US Armed Forces has also extended assistance as it recently deployed one P-8 Poseidon and two V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircrafts that conduced aerial sorties.
The Philippine Coast Guard, on the other hand, is also sending an additional vessel to augment the SAR team.
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) District Palawan spokesperson Lt. Gretch Mary Acuario said BRP Malabrigo (MRRV), which has just come from patrolling in the West Philippine Sea, is also on its way to Tubbataha from Barangay Buliluyan, Bataraza
“Since the SAR operations, the Coast Guard has issued a notice to mariners (NOTAM) that all vessels that will pass the area will be alerted regarding the operation,” Acuario said in a separate interview.
Furthermore, she stated that the BRP Melchora Aquino, which transported the 28 survivors to the city last Monday, remains on standby for potential redeployment.
She also noted that the weather is improving today, unlike the previous few days when it was unpredictable.
“But since then, we still have no gale warnings issued from PAGASA,” she said.
Survivors sent home
Meanwhile, WESCOM has also transported 11 of the 28 survivors to Manila on Tuesday aboard C295 aircraft of PAF.
Other survivors have also gone home via commercial flights while most of the crew members of the ill-fated yacht are still in the city