The Philippine Air Force’s C-130 aircraft with 96 people on board had a mishap on landing on the island of Jolo, the air force said – dozens rescued were taken to hospital
Philippines: Smoke fills sky after C-130 aircraft crashes
Forty-five people have been killed including civilians on the ground after a military plane crashed and exploded into flames in the southern Philippines.
A number of soldiers jumped out of the Lockheed C-130 transport aircraft before it slammed into the ground with 96 people on board.
The Department of National Defence said 45 people had been killed, including three civilians on the ground, while 53 were injured, including four civilians. Five military personnel were still missing.
The Air Force plane, carrying troops bound for counter-insurgency operations, had attempted to land at an airport on Jolo island, but overshot the runway without touching down.
It failed to regain enough power and height and crashed at nearby Patikul in the country’s worst military air disaster in nearly 30 years.
Pictures from the horrifying scene on Sunday morning showed bright orange flames and thick grey smoke pouring from the wreckage of the aircraft among trees.
A large column of black smoke rose into the blue sky.
Dramatic video footage at the scene showed the plumes of smoke rising as commotion and coughing could be heard in the background.
“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 Joint Task Force Sulu said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear how many jumped or whether they had survived.
Military chief Cirilito Sobejana said the plane had “missed the runway trying to regain power”.
The Defence Minister earlier told Reuters the plane had been carrying 92 people, including three pilots and five other crew members.
Officials have since confirmed 96 people were on board.
A military spokesman, Colonel Edgard Arevalo, said there was no indication of any attack on the plane, but that a crash investigation had not begun and efforts were currently focused on rescue and treatment.
The military command said the soldiers aboard had the rank of private and were being deployed to their battalions.
The army in the sprawling Philippine archipelago has been fighting a long war against Islamist militants from Abu Sayyaf and other factions.
Sobejana said the plane had crashed a few kilometres from Jolo airport at 11: 30 a.m (0330 GMT) after flying about 300 miles from Laguindingan.
“We are currently attending to the survivors who were immediately brought to the 11th Infantry Division station hospital in Busbus, Jolo, Sulu,” he said.
Helicopters were deployed to transport the injured to hospital.
Al Jazeera said the C-130 is one of the newly acquired planes by the Philippines Air Force.
The area where the tragic crash happened was said to be ‘home to one of the huge bases of the Philippines military’.
BOGS MUHAJIRAN via REUTERS)
Jolo airport has a 1,200-metre runway that usually takes civilian turboprop flights though occasionally some military flights, according to a Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines spokesperson.
Jolo island, which is part of the Sulu archipelago, is about 950 km (600 miles) south of the capital, Manila.
The Lockheed C-130H Hercules aircraft, registration 5125, had only arrived in the Philippines recently.
It was one of two aircraft granted by the US government through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, according to a government website announcement in January.
It quoted an air force spokesman as saying the aircraft would provide enhanced capability for heavy airlift missions.
The website C-130.net said the plane that crashed had first flown in 1988.
The model is a workhorse for armed forces around the world.
A Philippines Air Force C-130 crash in 1993 killed 30 people.
A 2008 crash of the civilian variant of the Lockheed plane flown by the Philippines Air Force killed 11 people, the Aviation Safety Network says.
The country’s worst plane crash was that of an Air Philippines Boeing 737 in 2000, which killed 131 people.
The incident comes after it was reported a private plane crashed in Haiti killing all six people on board including two American missionaries.
The plane went down on Friday evening, on a short flight from a Port-au-Prince airport to the southern coastal city of Jacmel, the National Civil Aviation Office reportedly said.
The cause of the disaster was not immediately known but it reported that the plane crashed into a mountain.