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AM-Philippines-Missing Plane, 6th Ld-Writethru, a0458,0382
^URGENT
^Passenger plane missing in the Philippines
^Eds: LEADS with plane route passing over a mountainous area, more background on the airline company. No pickup.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) A plane carrying 104 passengers and crew from Manila has been declared missing after failing to land in a southern Philippine city, aviation officials said Monday.
The pilot gave no indication of trouble in his routine communications with air traffic control and the weather was clear with scattered clouds when the plane disappeared, they said.
Philippine air force helicopters were scouring the seas and land along the plane's route Monday, trying desperately to find it. Aviation officials were checking all airports and cities nearby to see if it had made an emergency landing, but so far had found nothing.
The plane's path would have taken it over a mountainous area with peaks ranging from 7,300 feet to 8,000 feet.
The Cebu Pacific Air's 110-seater DC-9 aircraft was carrying 99 passengers and five crewmen when it failed to arrive in the city of Cagayan de Oro, said the airline's general manager, Diego Garrido.
Some of those aboard were foreigners, but their nationalities were not immediately known, he said.
The plane had taken off from Manila, the capital, about 9 a.m. Monday, then landed at the central city of Tacloban. It took off from Tacloban at 10:20 a.m., heading for Cagayan de Oro, a city on the southern island of Mindanao, 500 miles south of Manila.
The last contact the pilot had was with the Cagayan de Oro airport tower at 10:48 a.m., officials said. In the message, the pilot said he was at an altitude of 11,500 feet and starting to descend, Garrido said.
The pilot did not report any trouble with the plane and said his estimated arrival time was 11:03 a.m. Moments later, the plane disappeared, Garrido said.
``The weather was just fine in terms of flying conditions,'' said aviation official Joey Reyes.
Cebu Pacific, which began operations in March 1996, is one of several new airlines established after the Philippine government deregulated the aviation industry a few years ago.
The airline has had no previous accidents, airline officials said.


(Copyright 1998 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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