29 killed, 17 unaccounted for in military plane crash in southern Philippines

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Rescuers are seen at the crash site of a C-130 military plane of the Philippine Air Force in Sulu Province, the Philippines, July 4, 2021. At least 29 people were killed and 17 others are unaccounted for in the crash of a Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 Hercules transport plane on Sunday in Sulu province in the southern Philippines, local officers said. (Joint Task Force Sulu/Handout via Xinhua)

(Xinhua) — At least 29 people were killed and 17 others are unaccounted for in the crash of a Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 Hercules transport plane on Sunday in Sulu province in the southern Philippines, local officers said.

As of 5:30 p.m. local time, at least 50 injured personnel are being treated at a local hospital. Rescuers are still looking for 17 unaccounted people, said Joint Task Force Sulu Commander Major General William Gonzales.

“We remain to be hopeful that we could find more survivors. Our search and rescue are still ongoing,” he said.

The plane carrying army personnel crashed and burst into flames shortly before noontime on Sunday while attempting to land at Jolo airport.

“The plane missed the runway and tried to regain power but failed,” said Armed Forces of the Philippine chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana in a statement.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that more than 90 personnel were on board the plane, including three pilots and five crew.

The military said the plane was transporting “new privates of the Philippine Army who were en route to their deployment to end terrorism in Sulu.”

Minutes after the crash, troops and civilian volunteers rushed to the site for search and rescue. “Per eyewitnesses, a number of soldiers were seen jumping out of the aircraft before it hit the ground, sparing them from the explosion caused by the crash,” the military said.

According to Philippine Air Force documents, the crashed plane was a second hand C-130 Hercules recently purchased from the U.S. military.

The PAF said in an official statement that the aircraft has a tail number “5125.” Military documents showed that the aircraft arrived in the country in January this year. The United States officially turned over the plane during a ceremony in February.

“The C-130H Nr 5125 is the first of the two C-130H aircraft granted by the U.S. government through the Security Cooperation Assistance,” the PAF said in a statement in January.

In his speech during the turn-over ceremony of the “C-130H aircraft NR 5125” in February, Philippine Defense Secretary Lorenzana confirmed that his country acquired the first of the two C-130H aircraft through security cooperation assistance.

“Out of the total cost of 2.5 billion pesos (roughly 50.89 million U.S. dollars), the Philippines will only pay 1.6 billion pesos (roughly 32.57 million U.S. dollars),” Lorenzana said, adding that the U.S. agreed to “shoulder” the rest of the cost.

 

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