On 27 July 2019, a series of the earthquake struck the towns of Itbayat, Batanes which resulted in the collapse of centuries-old structures including the Sta. Maria de Mayan Church. Reports also declared 63 injured residents, eight (8) casualties and one (1) person missing.
The Philippine Air Force, thru the Tactical Operations Wing Northern Luzon headed by COL ARISTOTLE D GONZALEZ PAF (GSC), responded to the call of action. An S7 team, two teams (2) from the 505th Search and Rescue Group led by CPT AARJAYE G ESCOTE PAF, and seven (7) personnel from the Tactical Operations Group 2 with its Group Commander LTC RANDY G BUENA PAF (MNSA) were immediately deployed to provide search and rescue, medical evacuation, and logistical requirements to Itbayat.
Six (6) seriously injured residents were airlifted to Basco, Batanes via a PAF C295 #142. The patients were then brought to Batanes General Hospital for further medical attention.
The PAF personnel, together with the Marines’ 10th Battalion Landing Team (MBLT10) of the Philippine Marines Corps, Philippine National Police, and Philippine Coast Guard personnel tirelessly assured the safety of the residents despite experiencing several aftershocks and rains.
Meanwhile, B-412 helicopters of 250th Presidential Airlift Wing were also flown to ferry President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and other key government officials who went to Basco, Batanes and conducted an aerial inspection of Itbayat on 29 July 2019.
On 29 July 2019, after the relentless conduct of search and retrieval operations, the 505th Search and Rescue Group recovered the body of the missing victim identified as Mr. Edwin Ponce who was last seen resting in a cave before the earthquake struck.
PAF personnel work round the clock in the ongoing relief operations wherein the C295, C130, and NC212i aircraft of the 220th Airlift Wing and Sokol of the 505th Search and Rescue Group are being utilized to transport relief goods to over 900 earthquake-affected families of Itbayat and to ferry VIPs such as Vice President Robredo, Undersecretary Jalad of Office of Civil Defense, other government officials and volunteers.
To date, a total of 121,253 pounds of relief goods such as medicines, food, and other essential items, and tents donated by various government and non-government agencies were already transported to Batanes by the PAF.
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