At least 17 feared dead after C-130 military plane crashes in Philippines: Report
A Philippine C-130 military plane carrying troops on board has crashed in the country's southern region, news agencies reported on Sunday morning, citing military officials familiar with the development. According to the New York Times, the officials said at least 17 people are feared dead in the crash.
The aircraft, transporting armed forces from the southern Cagayan de Oro city, crashed after it missed a runway while attempting a landing on the island of Jolo, said the airforce in a statement.
Referring to statements issued by Philippine military chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana, news agencies reported that the crash-landing occurred shortly before noon in Bangkal village in the mountainous town of Patikul in the Sulu province.
“It’s very unfortunate,” Sobejana told reporters. “The plane missed the runway and it was trying to regain power but failed and crashed.”
As many as 40 people have been pulled out from underneath the burning wreckage, he said, confirming that the rescue operation is currently ongoing.
However, there is no clarity yet on the exact number of passengers in the aircraft. The AFP news agency said the plane had been carrying 85 people, citing the army chief. But a Reuters report, quoting the country's defence minister Delfin Lorenzana, indicated that as many as 92 people -- including three pilots and five other crew members -- may have been on the military plane.
A picture published by ABS-CBN News on Twitter showed smoke and flames pouring from the broken fuselage. The post credited Pondohan TV on Facebook for acquiring the photo from witnesses present at the site of the crash.
Notably, the central Philippines region had been experiencing heavy rainfall over the week, but it was not immediately clear if the weather in the Sulu region was affected or if the erratic weather was the reason behind the crash.
The airport in Sulu’s main town of Jolo is located a few kilometers from a mountainous area where government forces have been battling the Abu Sayyaf militants in the predominantly Muslim province for decades. Some militants were also said to have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group. The United States and the Philippines have separately blacklisted Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organisation for bombings, ransom kidnappings, and beheadings. It has been considerably weakened by years of government offensives but still remains a threat, reports said.