At least 29 people have died and dozens injured when a Philippine military aircraft carrying troops crashed and burst into flames after missing the runway in the country’s south, the armed forces said.
According to a source, the revised death toll includes 42 military personnel who were on board the C-130 Hercules transport plane which was trying to land on Jolo island in Sulu province around midday.
At least 96 people, most of them army personnel, were on board the transport aircraft when it crashed around midday on Sunday, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement.
According to the military, the three pilots who were onboard the aircraft survived the crash but were seriously injured.
Earlier, General Cirilito Sobejana told reporters that at least 40 people have been rescued from the burning wreckage of the C-130.
“Responders are at the site now. We are praying we can save more lives,” Sobejana said. “It’s very unfortunate. The plane missed the runway, and it was trying to regain power but failed and crashed.”
Sobejana said the aircraft had been carrying troops from Cagayan de Oro on the southern island of Mindanao when it “missed the runway” as it tried to land on Jolo.
The plane tried to “regain power but didn’t make it”, he told local media, describing the accident as “very unfortunate”.
Some soldiers were seen jumping off the aircraft before it crashed and exploded in the periphery of the airport, military officials said.
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules was one of two ex-US Air Force aircraft handed over to the Philippines as part of military assistance this year.
Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan, reporting from Manila said helicopters were deployed to transport the injured to a nearby hospital.
“The C-130 is one of the newly acquired planes by the Philippines air force. The area where the crashed happened is home to one of the huge bases of the Philippines military,” she added.
The plane was transporting troops, many of them new soldiers who had just undergone basic training, from the southern Cagayan de Oro city for deployment in Sulu, officials said.
“They were supposed to join us in our fight against terrorism,” Sulu military commander Major General William Gonzales said. Government forces have been battling Abu Sayyaf armed group in the predominantly Muslim province of Sulu for decades.
Initial pictures released by the military showed the tail section of the cargo plane.
The other parts of the plane were burned or scattered in pieces in a clearing surrounded by coconut trees. Soldiers and other rescuers with stretchers are seen dashing into and from the smoke-shrouded crash site.
Colonel Edgard Arevalo, said there was no indication of any attack on the plane, but that a crash investigation had not begun and efforts were focused on rescue and treatment.
The accident comes after a Black Hawk helicopter crashed last month during a night-time training flight, killing all six on board.
Three pilots and three airmen died when their S70-i went down near the Crow Valley training range north of Manila, prompting the grounding of the entire fleet.