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Monday, February 2, 1998 Published at 08:55 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Passenger plane missing in the Philippines

Jon Liden of the Asian Wall Street Journal in Manila tells the BBC the latest (1'51")
A passenger plane believed to be carrying 104 passengers has been declared missing after failing to complete a domestic flight in the Philippines.

The Philippine Air Force are searching for Cebu Pacific Air's 110-seat DC-9 which was flying from Manila to Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao, about 500 miles (800km) to the south.

The plane, which is believed to have foreigners on board, had successfully completed a scheduled stop-off at Tacloban in the central Philippines but failed to land at Cagayan de Oro on Monday morning.

According to Cebu's general manager Diego Garrido, moments before the plane disappeared, the pilot messaged the control tower at Cagayan de Oro to say he was beginning his descent from 11,500 feet (3,488m).

He said he was experiencing no problems and expected to land on time, Mr Garrido said.

But an airport official reportedly said that the pilot had asked for "priority landing" when he was 37 miles (60km) from Cagayan de Oro.

A Philippine Airlines domestic plane was also seeking permission to land but airport crew waved it away to give way to the Cebu Pacific plane, the official said.

Reports said the plane left Manila at 9am (0100 GMT). It left Tacloban at 10:20 am (0220 GMT) and was scheduled to land at 11:03 am (0303 GMT) in Cagayan de Oro.

The last contact the pilot made with the Cagayan de Oro airport tower was at 10:48 am. (0248 GMT), airport officials said.

Air transport officials are checking all airports and cities near the plane's flight route to see if it made an emergency landing, but so far they have found nothing.

Cebu Pacific is one of several new airlines established after the Philippine Government deregulated the aviation industry a few years ago.

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