US helps search for Robredo, companions

Posted at 08/18/2012 9:57 PM | Updated as of 08/19/2012 12:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The US government has joined search and rescue operations for Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and his companions who have gone missing after their small Piper aircraft crashed in the sea off Masbate City Saturday afternoon, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas said.

Roxas, in a 9 p.m. update on the ongoing search for Robredo, Filipino pilot Capt. Jesuc Mainting and a Nepalese co-pilot, said the Philippine government accepted an offer made by US Naval Attache Capt. Jack Sutherland.

Roxas said a US Fleet Survey team in Cavite is now heading to the area where the aircraft crashed.

He did not say how many US ships will join the search operations.

Roxas said Philippine Coast Guard vessels and local fishermen are continuing their search in the crash site located just 200 meters from the shoreline.

Surface search and rescue operations are ongoing while divers have also been deployed to the area.