Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Philippine military plane crash toll hits 52



Philippine military plane crash toll hits 52

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The C-130 Hercules transport plane was carrying 96 people, most of them recent Philippines army graduates, when it overshot the runway. JOINT TASK FORCE-SULU/AFP

Philippine military plane crash toll hits 52

Philippine security forces searched among coconut trees on a remote southern island on July 4 for the flight data boxes of an aircraft that crashed and killed 52 people in one of the country’s worst military air disasters.

The C-130 Hercules transport plane was carrying 96 people, most of them recent army graduates, when it overshot the runway on July 4 while trying to land on Jolo island in Sulu province – a haven for Islamist militants.

The plane “skidded” and burst into flames in a village, killing 52 people including 49 military personnel and three civilians, said military spokesman Major General Edgard Arevalo.

Another 51 were injured, most of them soldiers. It was not clear if the pilots were among the survivors.

“This is one of the worst tragic incidents that happened in our armed forces,” Arevalo said.

The three civilians killed were not on the flight and had been working in a quarry, village leader Tanda Hailid told AFP.

They were relatives of Agga Ahaddi, who was lucky to survive the crash. He and his child were outside when the plane ploughed through their house and then a neighbour’s home.

“We ran away, we just left,” Ahaddi told AFP.

Photos of the scene released by the military’s Joint Task Force-Sulu showed the damaged tail and smoking wreckage scattered in a coconut grove.

“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,” Arevalo said.

“Aside from eyewitness accounts, we are also looking for recordings, radio conversation recordings between the pilot and the control tower.”

Arevalo said the military had secured the crash site and would ensure militants on the island do not disrupt search efforts.

Dental records were being used to help identify the charred remains of victims.

Most of the passengers recently graduated from basic military training and were being deployed to the restive island as part of a counter-insurgency effort in the Muslim-majority region.

The military has a heavy presence in the southern Philippines where militant groups, including the kidnap-for-ransom outfit Abu Sayyaf, operate.

C-130s have been the workhorses of air forces around the world for decades, used to transport troops, supplies and vehicles.

The second-hand Hercules that crashed on July 4 was acquired from the US and delivered to the Philippines earlier this year.

It was one of four in the country’s fleet and was in “very good condition”, the military said. Two others are being repaired while the third has been grounded following the crash.

“These are all seasoned and experienced pilots, that’s why we are also unable to immediately say how this... [happened],” said Arevalo.

“Even if these [military assets] are not brand new... these are airworthy.”

“This ranks as the worst crash of a Philippine military aircraft,” Jose Antonio Custodio, a military historian and analyst, told AFP.

It was the latest in a series of recent military air accidents in the Philippines.

Last month, a Black Hawk helicopter went down during a night-time training flight, killing all six onboard. The accident prompted the grounding of the country’s entire Black Hawk fleet.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque on July 5 said the incidents would provide “impetus for further modernisation” of the armed forces.

“The whole country is mourning,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • Airline says ready for green light to reopen international tourism

    Sky Angkor Airline Co Ltd on September 21 said it is ready to transport South Korean and Chinese tourists to the Kingdom once the Cambodian government makes good on plans to reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers. The Siem Reap-based airline made the remark during a

  • No ‘Crown Prince’ exists to buy France football club: ministry

    The Ministry of the Royal Palace has denied media reports that a Cambodian “Crown Prince” had purchased the AS Saint Etienne football club of France’s top-flight LIGUE 1 at the cost of €100 million ($117 million). In a press statement on September 19, the ministry stressed that Cambodia