In a sad development, the number of fatalities in the Philippine Air Force C-130 plane crash in Patikul, Sulu, has increased to 50 as of Monday morning. All 96 passengers have been accounted for, so authorities shifted to retrieval operations and concluded the search for survivors or missing individuals.
The crash left 47 military personnel aboard the C-130 Hercules transport plane and three civilians on the ground dead, Major Gen. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, said in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo. (Read: 4 Valuable Things I Learned in Military Training)
Forty-nine soldiers and four civilians were injured, Arevalo added.
Challenge to identify
On Sunday, a Philippine military aircraft carrying troops crashed and burst into flames after missing the runway in Jolo Island.
Some of the soldiers were seen jumping out of the plane before it hit the ground and exploded into flames, said Major General William Gonzales, commander of the Joint Task Force-Sulu. (Read: Pope Appeals for Peace in Jerusalem Amid Ongoing Clashes)
Meanwhile, Arevalo said the challenge is to identify the fatalities because the remains were “charred.”
“We are assuring they are going to receive the necessary support and assistance that they deserve,” he said in a separate press briefing.
Recent AFP graduates
Most of the passengers of the plane had recently graduated from basic military training and were being deployed to the restive island.
“They were supposed to serve under the 11th Infantry Division in Sulu… They were supposed to augment forces there,” Arevalo said in Filipino, adding an investigation team is on its way to the province. (Read: 4 Female Cadets Among Top PMA Grads of 2021)
The plane crash is one of the country’s deadliest military aviation accidents. In June, a Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a night flight and killed six people on board.
Arevalo said that the aircraft was in a “very good situation” despite not being brand new.
The second-hand plane was acquired from the United States and was delivered to the AFP early this year.
“There is no truth to rumor this aircraft is defective. It’s in tip-top shape and the pilots are all rated, seasoned, and experienced in flying this kind of aircraft,” he said.
Authorities are now conducting retrieval operations for the parts of the military plane, particularly the flight recorder or “black box.”