MANILA: Efforts to find a missing Saudi aviation student and his instructor who went missing May 17 in the Philippines continued on Monday.
Eric Apolonio, a spokesman for the Philippines Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP), said Coast Guard teams, divers and technicians armed with sonar equipment from the Orient Flying School (OFS) had been deployed to scan the waters south of the town of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro.
They have yet to find the missing Beechcraft Baron 55 (BB-55) aircraft or its two occupants, Abdullah Khalid Al-Sharif, a 23-year-old student at the OFS, and his teacher, Capt. Jose Nelson Yapparcon.
The two were on a training flight when the BB-55 vanished from radar shortly after takeoff from San Jose airport. Apolonio said operations, now in their 10th day, might expand beyond the waters of the San Jose Strait, about 42 km from the coast, but that the search was being hampered by bad weather conditions.
Three days after the disappearance, the CAAP said debris of an airplane was found in the area. A bag containing Yapparcon’s identification cards and belongings have also been found.
“Our investigators are just on standby. They still could not assess the debris that was found May 20 and, without the rest of the wreckage, they are also not in a position to investigate,” Apolonio told Arab News.
But Al-Sharif’s brother, Abdul Majeed, criticized what he described as “very weak” search efforts by Philippines authorities on Sunday, as well as the Saudi Embassy in Manila for its lack of help.
He told Arab News that “nothing new” had been confirmed since the May 20 discovery, and that his family would pursue “personal efforts” to widen the search.