MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine troops found the last five dead from the crash of a transport aircraft in the south, raising the death toll to 50 in the military’s worst air disaster, officials said Monday.
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules was carrying 96 mostly combat troops when it overshot the runway while landing Sunday at the Jolo airport in Sulu province, military officials said.
It slammed into a coconut grove beyond the airport and burst into flames in a noontime disaster witnessed by horrified soldiers and villagers.
Troops, police and firefighters rescued 49 military personnel, including a few who jumped off the aircraft before it exploded and was gutted by fire.
Seven people on the ground were hit by aircraft parts and debris, and three of them died, the military said.
A video taken by troops showed the aircraft landing in clear weather then vanishing beyond the airport. “It vanished, it vanished,” one soldier exclaims.
Dark gray smoke later billowed from the crash site in a wooded area as the troops, yell, “It fell, it fell” and let off curses in horror.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash and investigators were looking for the C-130’s black boxes containing the cockpit voice and flight data recorders.