Plane crash kills at least 29 on board, 2 civilians on ground C-130 aircraft carrying 96 passengers Search ongoing for 17 unaccounted military personnel Fifty survivors being treated in hospital MANILA, July 4 (Reuters) – A Philippines Air Force troop plane crashed and broke up in flames on a southern island on Sunday, killing 31 people after some jumped from the fuselage, security officials said, in the country’s worst military air disaster in nearly 30 years.
Pictures from the scene showed flames and smoke pouring from wreckage strewn among trees as men in combat uniform milled around, while a column of thick black smoke rose from the coconut palms into the sky.
The military command said the soldiers aboard had the rank of private, and were being deployed to their battalions. They were flying to the provincial airport of Jolo from Laguindingan, about 460 km (290 miles) to the northeast.
“They were supposed to join us in our fight against terrorism,” said Commander William N. Gonzales of Joint Task Force Sulu.
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, part of the Sulu archipelago, is about 950 km (600 miles) south of the capital, Manila.
The Lockheed C-130H Hercules aircraft, with registration 5125, had only recently arrived in the Philippines.
It was one of two aircraft provided by the U.S. government through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, a government website said in January. It quoted an air force spokesman as saying the aircraft would boost 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.
The Philippines armed forces have a patchy air safety record. Last month a Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a training mission, killing six people.
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.