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The death toll in the crash of the Philippine military plane rises to 50

  • The plane “skid” and caught fire in a village, killing 50 people, including 47 soldiers and 3 civilians.
  • The C-130 Hercules transport plane carried 96 people, most of whom were fresh graduates.
  • “The whole country is mourning,” President Rodrigo Duterte said.

On Monday, Philippine security forces searched for the flight data box of an aircraft that crashed in one of the country’s worst military air crashes and killed 50 people in a coconut tree on a remote southern island.

The C-130 Hercules transport plane carried 96 people, most of whom were newly graduated troops, and dashed off the runway when attempting to land on Jolo Island in Sulu Province on Sunday, a safe haven for Islamic radicals.

Military spokesman Major General Edgard Arevalo said that the plane “skid” and caught fire in a village, killing 50 people, including 47 soldiers and 3 civilians.

Another 53 people were injured, most of them soldiers. It is not clear whether the pilot is among the survivors.

“This is one of the worst tragic incidents in our armed forces,” Arevalo said.

Village Chief Tanda Hailide told AFP that the three civilians who were killed were not on the plane and had been working in the quarry.

Read | At least 29 people killed in Philippine military plane crash

The photos of the scene released by the joint military task force-Sulu showed damaged tails and smoking wreckage scattered among the coconut trees.

Arevalo said: “We have field personnel to ensure the integrity of the evidence we will retrieve, especially the flight data recorder.”

“In addition to what witnesses said, we are still looking for recordings of the pilot and the control tower, recordings of radio conversations.”

Arevalo said that the military has ensured the safety of the crash site and will ensure that militants on the island will not interfere with the search.

Dental records are used to help identify the burnt remains of victims.

Most of the passengers recently graduated from basic military training and were deployed to this turbulent island as part of counter-insurgency efforts in a Muslim-majority area.

The military has a large presence in the southern Philippines, where there are militant groups, including the kidnapping and ransom group Abu Sayyaf (Abu Sayyaf).

‘The worst crash’

For decades, C-130 has been the main force of air forces around the world, used to transport troops, materials and vehicles.

The second-hand Hercules that crashed on Sunday was purchased from the United States and shipped to the Philippines earlier this year.

Read here | Four dead and four seriously injured in Siberian plane crash

The military stated that it was one of four ships in the country’s fleet and was “in very good condition.” The other two are under repair, while the third was grounded after the crash.

“These are experienced pilots, which is why we can’t immediately explain how this… (happens),” Arevalo said.

“Even if these (military assets) are not brand new… these are all seaworthy.”

Military historian and analyst Jose Antonio Castordio told AFP:

Compared with the 40 people in the crash of a PAF C-47 in 1971, this is the most serious crash of a Philippine military aircraft so far, resulting in 50 deaths.

This is the latest in a series of military air crashes in the Philippines.

Last month, a Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a night training flight, killing all six people on board. The accident resulted in the grounding of the entire Black Hawk fleet in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Rock said on Monday that these events will provide “motivation” for the further modernization of the armed forces.

“The whole country is mourning,” he said.





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