Philippine troops join search for missing Saudi pilot and his teacher

Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif went missing along with this teacher.
Updated 18 June 2019
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Philippine troops join search for missing Saudi pilot and his teacher

  • The island is located northeast of San Jose Airport

MANILA: Philippine troops will comb a rugged offshore island in the search for a missing Saudi student pilot and his teacher whose aircraft vanished a month ago shortly after taking off from San Jose Airport in Occidental Mindoro.

The disappearance of the Beechcraft Baron 55 aircraft carrying Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif, a student at the Orient Flying School, and his teacher, Capt. Jose Nelson Yapparcon, remains a mystery, officials told Arab News on Monday.

The decision to shift the search to the island of Ambulong was taken at a meeting between the Philippines Civil Aviation Authority and other agencies last week, according to Chris Enriquez, officer-in-charge of the authority in San Jose.  

The island is located northeast of San Jose Airport. Enriquez said that searchers believe the aircraft’s pilot may have glided the aircraft toward Ambulong.

“Maybe the aircraft did not explode. No explosion was heard and there was no smoke, so perhaps the pilot was able to glide the plane toward the island,” he said. 

The Philippines Air Force will also assist in the continuing search.

Another official, who asked not to be identified, said the search is considering other angles aside from the “crash,” but stressed that for now, the focus is on the search-and-rescue operation. Asked whether the missing pilots may still be alive, officials said they “are still hoping for the best.”


Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

Updated 57 min 30 sec ago
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Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

  • The president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury Shagaf Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey
  • Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back”

CHRISTCHURCH: King Salman’s Hajj offer to host families of those affected by March’s Christchurch terror attacks is “something really special,” said the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Shagaf Khan.
The Saudi king has offered to host and cover the expenses of 200 Hajj pilgrims when they journey to Makkah this year.
Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey. “For some of them, it’ll be a great comfort feeling like they’ve fulfilled the obligations of being a Muslim,” he added.
Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back.”
When asked what the offer would mean for Canterbury’s Muslim community, Khan said it is part of the solidarity and support that has been shown to them since the Christchurch terror attacks, which claimed the lives of 51 people.
“Four months on … people still feel supported and they feel they’re still being remembered,” he added.
Sheikh Mohammed Amir, who is working closely with the local community, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs to implement King Salman’s offer, said it will be available for those who had lost family members or been injured in the mosque attacks.
Canterbury’s Muslims are “very appreciative” of the offer, added Amir, who is chairman of the Islamic Scholars Board of New Zealand.
“I’ll say with full confidence that this will be a big relief for the deceased’s families, for the victims, for all those who’ve been injured and affected,” he said.
When asked how the organization of the pilgrimage is going, Amir said “so far, so good,” but added that it has been challenging without official records to track everyone down.
He said it is an honor and a responsibility to help organize the pilgrimage, which he has been helping to plan since the end of Ramadan. “People are very excited about it,” he added.
He said he believed that the king’s offer had been made to help people’s rehabilitation after the terror attacks.
“The community believes he’s going to contribute in building Christchurch and bringing people to a normal life,” Amir added.