On Monday Jul 5th, Philippine military chief Cirilito Sobejana said all 96 passengers of the Philippine Air Force plane that crashed on Sunday, have all been accounted for.
50 deaths and 53 injured
Spokesperson for the Philippines Armed Forces Edgard Arevalo, said the death toll from the crash came to 50 people. Out of this number, 47 were military personnel, and the remaining 3 were civilians.
Patikul village leader Tanda Hailid, told AFP that the three civilians were working in a quarry when they were killed.
A further 53 people consisting of soldiers and civilians were injured.
It is unknown whether the pilots of the aircraft survived the crash.
In the Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, most of the 96 people on board were recent army graduates.
The soldiers on board were on their way to their battalions. They held the rank of private, according to the military command.
While attempting to land at Jolo airport, the plane overshot the runway without touching down. As a result of failing to regain enough power and height, it crashed at nearby Patikul.
In a statement, the Joint Task Force Sulu said “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.“
It remains unknown how many jumped out of the aircraft, or whether they are alive.
The Joint Task-Force-Sulu released some photos of the crash site. The aircraft’s damaged tail and the smoking wreckage of the fuselage’s back section laying near coconut trees could be seen.
Local media outlet Pondohan TV published images of the crash on its Facebook page. Flames engulfed the aircraft. A plume of thick black smoke rising above houses near the site is also seen in the photos.
According to a Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines spokesperson, Jolo airport has a 1,200m runway that usually takes civilian turboprop flights. However, it only occasionally takes some military flights.
Army’s long war against militants
Part of the Sulu archipelago, the island of Jolo, is about 950km south of the Philippine capital, Manila.
In the sprawling Philippine archipelago, the army continues to fight against Islamist militants from Abu Sayyaf and other factions in a long war.
Commander William N Gonzales of Joint Task Force Sulu said “They were supposed to join us in our fight against terrorism.“
The doomed aircraft
With a registration number of 5125, the Lockheed C-130H Hercules aircraft had only recently arrived in the Philippines.
In January, a government website in January listed the aircraft as one of two provided by the US government through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. An air force spokesman said the aircraft would boost the army’s capability for heavy airlift missions.
Fourth military accident this year
The crash is the fourth military aircraft accident this year alone, with mass causalities, according to Senator Richard Gordon.
Gordon tweeted “Are we buying defective crafts… (with) the people’s money?”
The previous mishaps are under investigation, according to Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana. The Defence Minister dismissed speculation about the possible causes, as such speculation was disrespectful to victims and their grieving families.
US Presidential spokesman Harry Roque described the accident as “very unfortunate”.
In a statement released by the US White House, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US offered “deep condolences”.
He said “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Philippine allies at this difficult time and are ready to provide all appropriate support to the Philippines’ response effort.”
5th July 2021 23:00
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