Day 6 of search for Songkyu: If drones can’t find Korean missing in mountains, can dogs succeed?

June 18, 2017 - 5:04 PM
search for choi songkyu
Members of the search and rescue mission for a Korean national use drones in the search in Barlig, Mountain Province. Officials are mulling over tapping K-9 units to boost the search. Photo courtesy of the Mountain Province's Risk Reduction and Management Office.

BAGUIO CITY – Six days after Korean national Choi Songkyu went missing somewhere in the mountains of Barlig, Mountain Province and Banaue, Ifugao, a total of 65 responders are now involved in the massive search for him.

During the search, the rescuers utilized drones in a bid to locate Sungkyu. The Provincial Risk Reduction Management Office (PRRMO) of Mountain Province said it might seek the assistance of the K-9 unit of the Office of Civil Defense.

Sungkyu was reported missing on June 10 by the Barlig municipal police. According to the report, Sungkyu arrived in Barlig town the evening of June 7 and checked into an inn. The Mountain Province police said he checked out around 9 a.m. on June 9, informing the owner he was headed to Mount Batad in Banaue, Ifugao.

At least 20 personnel from the Sagada Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC), 18 from the Mountain Province Provincial DRRM office and 27 from Barlig MDRRM office are grouped into seven SAR teams are dispatched to the mountains of Barlig. Each team has a guide who is familiar with the terrain.

Meanwhile, 16 Koreans together with a consul from the Korean embassy are in Barlig municipality to monitor the search operations. He was suspected to be missing around 5:30 p.m. on June 13 when a member of the Barlig police managed to contact Choi. Asked where he was, the Korean replied he was in a place where there are many pine trees and was very weak. He then said he was turning off his mobile phone to conserve the battery.

According to the Mountain Province PDRRMC, the search and rescue operation might be suspended should Sunday’s operation prove, unproductive considering the health concerns of the responders, local guides and other volunteers.

“The move is to give the teams respite after days of continuous search for the missing Korean national. However, the PDRRMO/ PDRRMC would still continue to coordinate with other other agencies, local and other provinces’ officials, DRRMs and volunteer SAR groups for further moves to locate the missing Korean,” said an updated advisory.