Trike driver rescues passengers of crashed trainer plane off Zamboanga shore

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DAVAO CITY  — A tricycle driver and his friend who was traveling to have his motorbike repaired rescued the four passengers of a trainer plane which crash-landed near the sea wall of Barangay Sinunuc Boulevard in Zamboanga City at around 9:45 am on Tuesday.

Mufri Yusop, 24, a Tausug, in an interview with Newsline Tuesday night said he was driving tricycle while his friend Alnajir Sahailli on his multi-cab next to him when they saw the plane turning towards the left but one of the wing was descending to the water.

The CAAP in a statement said that a training aircraft of ROYHLE Aviation Academy, Incorporated, a flying school in Dumaguete City.

Yusop and his friend were just meters away from the shore “Nung nakita namin na pabagsak ang eroplano, tumakbo na kami ni Alnajir kasi nasa kabilang daan lang kami sa may coastal road, sumigaw ako sabi ko –Sir Swim Sir, sumagot yong naka itim-we cannot swim, nagtanong yong pulis kung sino ang marunong lumangoy- hindi na namin sya sinagot, tumalon na ako at sinabihan ko si Alnajir na tumalon na”.

(When we saw the descending plane, I and Alnajir ran because the shore is just across the coastal road, I shouted to the man in black who was inside the plane, Sir Swim Sir, he answered I cannot swim, the policeman asked who knows how to swim, we did not reply, I just jumped off and asked Alnajir to follow”.

Yusop said, he first helped the man in a black polo shirt to open the door, then started evacuating them.

The last one he rescued was the pilot who was trapped near the rudder pedals “Medyo mataba siya parang naipit sa parang makina, nakaputi sya, so, basta nakaputi piloto yan di ba? (He is a bit chubby, he was trapped near the engine, he was in white, so, I guess he was the pilot as pilots wear white, isn’t it?”).

When they successfully brought the passengers to the shore, one of the passengers asked him to look for the important documents left inside the place, but Mufri told him he tried but cannot find it because he has no goggles and the current was strong.

Mufri Yusop the tricycle driver who rescued the four passengers of the light plane which crashed off Zamboanga shore on Tuesday morning.-Photo courtesy: Mirasol Monteza/RMN Zamboanga

Yusop did not even know that he rescued Suramya Khanal, 28, a Nepalese student pilot; Capt. Jyothis John Pulinthanam, 27, an Indian pilot; Jemy Chacko Domen, 34, Indian flight instructor; and, Razel Dulay, 27, a Filipino aircraft mechanic. All from ROYHLE Flight Training Academy.

Later, the members of the coast guard, the maritime police, and other government agencies arrived.

In a press statement, the Philippine Coast Guard said they rescued the passengers on board the Piper PA-34 Seneca private plane with call sign RP-C834 that conducted an emergency landing at Barangay Sinunuc.

The Coast Guard said they coordinated with the CAAP and deployed aluminum boats and alerted its Special Operations Group (SOG) and Marine Environmental Protection (MEP) teams for immediate assistance.

Immediately, the PCG rescue teams transported the Indian pilot and three passengers (Filipino, Indian, and Nepali), who are all in good physical condition, to the CAAP office in Zamboanga City for further assistance and investigation about the incident.

The plane minutes after tricycle driver Mufri Yusop and his friend AlNajir rescued the four passengers.-Mirasol Monteza/RMN Zamboanga

When the PCG rescue teams arrived at the incident area, said private plane was already on the water approximately six feet deep and six meters away from the shoreline of Barangay Sinunuc.

“Immediately, the PCG rescue teams transported the Indian pilot and three passengers (Filipino, Indian, and Nepali), who are all in good physical condition, to the CAAP office in Zamboanga City for further assistance and investigation about the incident,” the statement added.

Reports have it, the private plane took off from Zamboanga Airport bound for Dumaguete City at around 09:30 a.m.

According to its pilot, the emergency landing is caused by the left engine’s failure a few minutes after they took off from the said airport.

Yusop lost the P100 he saved for the repair of his motorbike and his quarantine pass, a reporter handed him same amount to push for the repair.

Asked how he felt that the authorities did not recognize their rescue effort, Yusop said “Bahala sila, ang importante nakuha namin yong apat sa dagat (I don’t care, rescuing the four from the sea was more important.)-Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline

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