MANILA (AdChoiceTV News) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines has concluded its rescue and retrieval operations on the Philippine Air Force C-130 aircraft that crashed in Patikul, Sulu, leaving 50 dead — the country’s deadliest military air disaster in at least four decades.
‘We have already completed our rescue and retrieval (operation),” AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said in a text message to AdChoiceTV News on Monday.
Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen Corleto Vinluan, meanwhile, reported the latest death toll in Sunday’s crash at 50 after the remains of five earlier missing soldiers were recovered.
Vinluan said 47 military personnel and three civilians were killed, while 49 soldiers and four civilians were being treated for injuries.
The Department of National Defense earlier said the three civilians killed were on the ground when the crash happened.
AFP spokesperson Major Gen. Edgard Arevalo told AdChoiceTV News early Monday that Sobejana was already headed to the area after ordering that the site be safeguarded to determine the cause of the incident.
Sobejana, who once served as the Joint Task Force Sulu commander, will be accompanied by members of the Air Mobility Command and the investigating team within the day, Arevalo said.
Initial reports said the aircraft appears to have overshot the runway as it tried to land at the Jolo Airport on Sunday morning. Arevalo noted that that “for an unknown reason that is yet to be determined, it turned out that the aircraft skidded” and instead crashed in Patikul.
“(The black box) not yet been recovered and we’re going to continue — I’m not sure if it has been recovered at this time, but…in the conversation that I had last night with the commander of the Air Mobility Command, he told me that this is available…in this model of C-130 aircraft,” Arevalo said.
He added that apart from eyewitnesses and data from the control tower of the Jolo airport, they will look into “the most important piece of information” that could be derived from the black box, while some details remain inconclusive.
At least 96 passengers were listed in the flight, including three pilots and five air crew members, he added.
This is a developing story.