Philippine troops have found the last five people killed by the crash of a transport plane in the south, raising the death toll to 50 in the worst air disaster in the army, officials said Monday.
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules was carrying 96 combat troops at most as it overran the runway while landing Sunday at Jolo airport in Sulu province, military officials said. He jumped into a cocoon forest beyond the airport and burst into flames in a midday disaster assisted by horrified soldiers and villagers.
Troops, police and firefighters rescued 49 military personnel, including a few who jumped from the aircraft before it exploded and was gutted by fire. All passengers have now been counted. Seven people on the ground were hit by planes and debris, and three of them died, the army said.
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules was one of two renewed U.S. Air Force aircraft returned to the Philippines, Washington’s oldest ally in Asia, as part of military assistance this year.
Those who boarded the C-130 in Cagayan de Oro for the flight to Sulu were army troops, many of them newly trained recruits, to be deployed in the battle against Abu Sayyaf fighters in the south.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash and investigators were looking for black boxes on the C-130 that contained cockpit voice and data recorders.
Earlier on Sunday, the deadliest disaster of the Philippine Air Force was a crash in a rice field north of Manila in 1971 that killed 40 military personnel, said military historian Jose Custodio.