July 4 (UPI) — A Philippine Air Force plane, pushed from the U.S. government earlier this year, crashed on the southern island of Jolo on Sunday morning, killing 29 people aboard and two civilians on the ground.
The Lockheed Martin C-130 military plane, which was carrying 92 personnel, including three pilots and five crew members, was going from Cagayan de Oro, in Mindanao, to Sulu province when it missed the runway on the island of Jolo into nearby Patikul village, the head of the Philippine armed forces, Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, said in a report by The New York Times.
Patikul is a stronghold of the militant group known as Abu Sayyaf.
The crash occurred at 11:30 a.m. local time, CNN reported.
“Minutes after the crash, troops and civilian volunteers rushed to the site for search and rescue,” according to a press release by Joint Task Force Sulu. “Per eyewitnesses, a number of soldiers were seen jumping out of the aircraft before it hit the ground sparing them from from the explosion caused by the crash.”
At least 50 people were hospitalized and 17 personnel are still unaccounted for, Joint Task Force Sulu Commander William N. Gonzales said.
The troops “were supposed to report to their battalions today. They were supposed to join us in our fight against terrorism,” Gonzales said.
Five military vehicles were also aboard the plane, officials said.
The four-engine turbo-prop plane, first flew in 1988, and it was used by the United States Air Force.
It was one two C-130H Hercules granted by the U.S. government’s military financing program and valued at $32.2 million, according to the U.S. Embassy in February.
“The C-130 is a proven aircraft and demonstrated its reach and capability to deliver COVID-19 supplies across the country over the past year,” Charge d’Affaires John Law said in the news release. “We hope this additional aircraft will continue to be a steady workhorse for the Philippine Air Force for years to come.”
In 2008, nine crew members and two passengers aboard Philippine Air Force C-130 died when it crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from Davao City on the southern island of Mindanao.
In 1993, a Philippines Air Force C-130 crashed, killing 30 people.
Last month, a newly acquired S-70i Black Hawk utility helicopter crashed during a night flight about 60 miles north of the capital Manila, killing all six people on board.
The nation’s worst plane crash took place in 2000. A Boeing 737-200 was on an early morning flight from Manila to the southern city of Davao when it crashed at Samal Island, killing all 131 people aboard.