Military plane crashes in Philippines, with survivors pulled from burning wreckage
A Philippine air force C-130 aircraft carrying troops crashed in a southern province Sunday after missing the runway and at least 40 people on board were rescued from the burning wreckage, the military chief said.
Chief of Staff Gen Cirilito Sobejana did not immediately say if there were casualties after it crashed on landing shortly before noon in Bangkal village in the mountainous town of Patikul in Sulu province.
Defence minister Delfin Lorenzana said the plane had been carrying 92 people, including three pilots and five other crew members, according to his initial reports.
The plane was transporting troops from southern Cagayan de Oro city, Sobejana said. Government forces have been battling Abu Sayyaf militants in the predominantly Muslim province of Sulu for decades.
“It’s very unfortunate,” Sobejana told reporters. “The plane missed the runway and it was trying to regain power but failed and crashed.”
Sobejana said at least 40 people on board were brought to a hospital and troops were trying to save the rest.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash. But army spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo said the crash was not thought to have been caused by an attack and the focus now was on rescuing survivors and not investigating the cause.
The airport in Sulu’s main town of Jolo is located a few kilometres from a mountainous area where troops have battled the Abu Sayyaf. Some militants have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group.
The United States and the Philippines have separately blacklisted the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings. It has been considerably weakened by years of government offensives but remains a threat.