Fifty people have been confirmed dead after a Philippine Air Force plane crashed in the southern Philippines on Sunday. It’s one of the country’s worst military air disasters in 30 years.
The C-130 military plane was reportedly carrying 96 military personnel and crew from Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao to Sulu province when it missed the runway on the island of Jolo and crashed at the nearby Patikul village at 11.30 am local time on Sunday, according to Philippine Armed Forces chief Cirilito Sobejana and media reports.
The joint task force at Sulu said in a statement: “Minutes after the crash, troops and civilian volunteers rushed to the site for search and rescue. Per eyewitnesses, several soldiers were seen jumping out of the aircraft before it hit the ground sparing them from the explosion caused by the crash.”
Meanwhile, an investigation has been launched into the crash. Reports of personnel jumping out of the plane will also be investigated, the statement said.
Major General Edgard Arevalo, a spokesperson for the military, told the media that 47 army personnel have died, while 49 survived the crash. He said those injured are being treated in hospitals.
Maj Gen Arevalo told the media that all personnel on the place were new graduates who had just completed their military training. He also said that three civilians were killed on the ground and four were injured.
“We have people on the ground to make sure the integrity of the pieces of the evidence that we will retrieve, most particularly the flight data recorder,” he added. “Aside from eyewitness accounts, we are also looking for recordings, radio conversation recordings between the pilot and the control tower.”
Maj Gen. Arevalo said the military had secured the crash site and was trying to ensure that the militants on the island didn’t disrupt the search efforts.
Reuters reported that this military plane air disaster was the country’s worst. In 1993, a C-130 had crashed in which 30 people had lost their lives.