MISAMIS ORIENTAL: The mass and flowers commemorated on Friday the scene of grieving relatives of Flight 387, a Cebu Pacific Air flight from Manila to Cagayan de Oro (CDO) City, that crashed in Mount Sumagaya on February 2, 1998, killing all 104 passengers, including the airplane crew.
Father Remil Magusara, parish priest of Barangay Malagana, a village in the outskirts of Claveria in Misamis Oriental, celebrated the mass attended by dozens of surviving heirs, relatives and friends who trekked to the site where a shrine was constructed as a memorial to those who perished in the crash 20 years ago.
Every year, the bereaved families and friends visit the shrine to remember the ill-starred passengers who, except for unidentified body parts, have never been recovered.
The shrine is a symbolic site where rescuers who retrieved unidentified body parts dumped body bags and belongings from the crash site in the middle of Mount Sumagaya, about 6,000 feet above sea level.
Mount Sumagaya straddles the mountain range of Balatucan, a government-declared reservation area that is 7,600 feet above the sea level.
Flight 387 hit Mount Sumgaya, 1,600 feet down from the mountain peak, about two kilometers from the memorial shrine.
The plane was carrying 99 passengers and five flight crew piloted by Capt. Paulo Justo and co-pilot Erwin Golla who all perished when the commercial aircraft rammed in the middle of the mountain covered by thick fog during a heavy rain about 11 a.m. on that fateful day.
Rescue teams were not able to locate the exact crash site until late in the afternoon on February 6 when mountain climbing enthusiasts decided to scour the crash site four days later.
The mangled bodies of unidentified victims were buried in a mass grave in a high-end memorial park in CDO City marked by a black granite wall with names of those who died in the crash.
The tragedy was considered one of the worst air disasters in the country’s aviation history. But until now dozens of questions on how and why Flight 387, a McDonell Douglas DC-9-32 crashed.
Flight 387 departed Manila at about 9:16 a.m. on its way to CDO, but made an unscheduled stop in Tacloban City at 9:53 a.m. to deliver spare tires for a Cebu Pacific plane that was stranded there.
Nine minutes after landing in Tacloban, the plane flew to DCO via Butuan City cruising an “uncharted flight” with the pilot’s last conversation recorded in the black box at about 10:48 a.m. over Mount Balatucan range. The black box also recorded a loud crushing sound at about10:49 a.m.