A STILL unidentified aircraft crashed at the mountain boundary of Esperanza and Bagumbayan towns in Sultan Kudarat, Sunday morning.

Authorities confirmed a private airplane exploded in midair before it crashed on the mountainous area around 11:30 a.m.

Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) public information officer chief Captain Alberto Caber told Sun.Star Davao that a report from the Army's 6th Infantry Division revealed that an airplane crashed in the area.

The report said residents of sitio Dapulan in Barangay Margues heard a loud explosion, then saw a plane going down towards the mountains.

"Sibilyan yung nakarinig ng pagsabog ng eroplano. Pero hindi pa rin maconfirm ngayon if anong klaseng eroplano yung nagcrash," Caber said.

Caber also revealed the 6th ID immediately dispatched several military units after receiving the intial report of the crash.

"Nag-organize agad ng search and rescue team ang 6th ID. Dineploy nila ang 33rd IB, 62nd DRC, 601st Brigade units nila," Caber said in a phone interview.

Around 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Caber said two helicopters of the Philippine Air Force from Cagayan de Oro City were also deployed at the crash site to perform aerial reconnaissance.

The Esperanza disaster council and Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) immediately organized an emergency meeting to conduct rescue operation.

"Pero hindi pa rin maconfirm if anong eroplano talaga and kung may casualty ba," Caber said.

Brigadier General Rodante Joya, officer-in-charge (OIC) deputy director for operations of Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) denied earlier reports that a commercial plane from Manila to General Santos City had crashed.

Joya said the reported plane crash incident did not involve any flight from Cebu Pacific or any other commercial flights but possibly a private plane operated by aviation students.

"As of now negative po na passenger plane. Nagcheck na po tayo sa flights ng mga airline companies at lahat po ng flights ay accounted,"

Joya said in a live phone interview with ABS-CBN's DZMM Teleradyo.

"Nagchicheck tayo ngayon if light plane na galing sa mga maliliit na airpad na hindi na controlled natin," he added.

An official statement issued by Cebu Pacific, on the other hand, also denied it was its aircraft that was involved in the crash.

"No Cebu Pacific flight is involved in the reported incident in Sultan Kudarat today. All Ceby Pacific flights are accounted for," the statement relayed to this paper Sunday afternoon said.

Captain Jo Anne Petinglay, 6th ID spokesperson, in a separate phone interview, said they have deployed units to the area where the plane reportedly crashed.

"We received a report earlier about a plane crash incident in Esperanza. As of now, hind pa namin maconfirm but we have our units deployed in the area to confirm it," Petinglay said.

A report from state-run Philippine News Agency, said Esperanza Mayor Helen Latog has dispatched rescue teams to the upland portions of her town after an aircraft was reported by residents to have crashed near the area.

She said the aircraft was specifically witnessed by residents of Sitio Dapulan in Barangay Margues exploding in midair and crashed in mountainous areas.

"They first heard a loud explosion first and then saw a plane going down towards the mountains," she said in a radio interview.

Latog said they do not have any confirmation yet as to the identity or the type of the ill-fated aircraft, but sources said it was reportedly private plane with four to six passengers onboard.

The official said she immediately sent their rescue team to locate the aircraft and search for possible survivors.

She said the team is composed of a doctor and five nurses from the municipal health office, rescue personnel from the provincial government of Sultan Kudarat and elements from the Esperanza municipal police station and the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB).