KIDAPAWAN CITY -- All eight passengers, including a Philippine Air Force (PAF) general, and a civilian were charred to death after a Nomad aircraft carrying them crashed into a residential area in a city in southern Philippines.
Fifteen minutes after takeoff, the twin-prop Nomad aircraft crashed into a row of houses at the Urban Poor Village in Cotabato City and burst into flames, killing all those onboard the aircraft and one civilian, and wounding two residents, the official said.
One of those killed was identified as Major General Mario Lacson, chief of the 3rd Air Division based in Zamboanga City.
Together with Lacson on the plane were Major Presco Tacuboy, 1st Lieutenant Alexander Ian Lepaet, Staff Sergeants Reynaldo Mejia, Cristy Maria Rose Llanera, Jeffrey Gozum, and the two pilots, identified as Captain Genaro Ordoño and Lieutenant Angelica Valdez, a female pilot in her mid 20s.
Lieutenant Colonel Gerol Gagan, deputy chief of the Tactical Operations Group (TOG-11) based in Davao City, said the Nomad plane had stopped in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao, to drop off TOG 12 chief Colonel Cris Tumanda and four other passengers.
After a routine cooling off, the plane took off around 11:35 a.m. from Awang airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat for Zamboanga City, Gagan said.
Lieutenant Colonel Raymundo Ferrer, chief of the military's Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said Lacson and other PAF officials attended a meeting at the Eastmincom headquarters in Davao City on Wednesday.
He said the plane went into flames right after it crashed.
The pilot radioed soon after takeoff to say the plane had an emergency and was heading back when it crashed, Civil Aviation Authority deputy director Ed Kapunan said in a radio interview.
The ill-fated plane's pilot reportedly informed the Awang control tower shortly after taking off that “they lost power.”
In a television interview, Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema reported that a civilian on the ground, identified as Inday Mondrano, was also killed in the crash.
Shiela Gomiton and a firefighter, who tried to rescue the victim, were wounded when the plane crashed, reports said. Gomiton's two children, Jason and Jen-Jen, were unhurt.
Gomiton was reportedly preparing for lunch when the incident happened.
Two more houses, one of them owned by Rogelio Daet, and a private vehicle were also hit when the aircraft landed at the residential area.
Television footage showed one charred body among the flaming debris as people tried to help firemen put out the blaze, some dousing the fire with garden hoses and pails of water. Footages at the crash site showed that the plane was a total wreck.
Major Randolph Cabangbang, Eastmincom spokesman, confirmed that all eight passengers perished in the crash.
"We still don't know what happened, but the plane is quite old," he said.
An investigation into the crash, he said, is now being conducted.
The Philippine Air Force is said to have one of the oldest fleet of aircraft in the world.
The plane was acquired by the government from Australia in 1976. Three others still in service will be grounded pending results of an investigation, said air force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Gerardo Zamudio.
On August 25, 2008, a C-130 plane lost communication shortly after takeoff from the Davao Airport. Debris believed to be parts of the aircraft, as well as body parts and personal effects, were recovered in nearby barangays.
All 11 people were onboard the plane when it went missing. Its wreckage was found in September 2008 in the Davao Gulf. (Malu C. Manar and Gigie Arcilla-Agtay of Sun.Star Davao/Bong Garcia/Sunnex)