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 Helicopter wreckage, bodies recovered

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PostSubject: Helicopter wreckage, bodies recovered   Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:30 pm

MANILA, Philippines - All eight people on a helicopter carrying key aides of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were killed when it crashed in a mountain forest earlier in the week in the northern Philippines, officials said Thursday.


Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said there were no survivors in Tuesday's crash after search teams finally recovered the remains of the eighth person on board early Thursday.

"Like most of us, I was hoping that, until the last body was recovered, there will be survivors," he told reporters in the northern mountain resort city of Baguio.

Among those who died were Arroyo's senior military aide Brig. Gen. Carlos Clet, Press Undersecretary Jose Capadocia and the president's appointments secretary, Marilou Frostrom. The five others included the two pilots.

Arroyo cried as she embraced Clet's wife, Jocelyn, during a brief religious service for seven of the victims whose remains were placed in metal caskets, each draped with the Philippine flag, at the Baguio airport before they were flown to Manila.

"We mourn the death of our friends and colleagues who died while serving their country. I will miss them so much in my official family," Arroyo later said.

The Bell 412 helicopter crashed Tuesday in a mountain rain forest near Tinoc township in Ifugao province.

Arroyo's aides were flying from Baguio to Ifugao, about 45 minutes away by helicopter, to prepare for her visit there on Wednesday. She was scheduled to inspect a mountain road project but the trip was canceled after the helicopter disappeared.

After flying into thick clouds and encountering rain, the helicopter struggled to turn back to avoid slamming into the 9,586-foot (2,922-meter) Mount Pulag, the country's second highest peak. But it crashed into a nearby forest for still-unclear reasons, Ifugao police Chief Joseph Cagayan Adnol said.

Ground search teams were hampered by rain and the thick vegetation and took hours to reach the burnt wreckage along a small creek, said Ifugao Gov. Teddy Baguilat, quoting police.

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