The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has confirmed Tuesday that a C130 Hercules transport plane with two pilots and seven crewmembers onboard, has crashed after takeoff from Davao International Airport Monday evening.
Air Force spokesman, Maj. Gerardo Zamudio, made the announcement after search and rescue operations for the missing military air transport on Tuesday recovered several debris believed to be parts of the transport plane, combat boots and body parts off Davao Gulf.
Quoting an earlier report from Col. Isagani Silva, the commander of Tactical Operations Group 11, PAF chief Lt. Gen. Pedrito Cadungog had said pieces of an aircraft, two combat boots, body parts and manuals were found in an area between Samal Island and Davao City.
Search and rescue operations were launched after the plane, with two pilots and seven crewmembers onboard, went missing shortly after takeoff from Davao International Airport Monday evening.
The two pilots were identified as Major Manny Sambrano and Captain Adrian de Dios.
Personnel from PAF, Philippines Army, Coast Guard, Navy and the Philippine National Police were deployed to scour sea and land areas, according to Cadungog.
Cadungog added that two Air Force Nomad planes, three UH-1H helicopters, one S-76 chopper and Beechcraft 200 chopper were also dispatched to search for the missing plane.
The local government units also helped in the search operations.
Earlier, Cadungog said the aircraft "most probably crashed that’s why we are concentrating our search within a 20-mile radius."
Cadungog said it took off around 8:50 p.m. and it was expected to arrive at the Iloilo City airport around 10 p.m. The plane was bound for Iloilo City to pick up personnel of the Presidential Security Group and fly them to Metro Manila.
"Unfortunately, their aircraft was not able to land… so we initiated search operations as early as that, around 10 last night. Their aircraft is still missing up to now and we’re conducting search and rescue operations concentrating on the 20-mile radius around Davao City International Airport," he said in an ANC interview.
The last communication from the pilots was one minute after takeoff wherein they were given instructions to turn left for Iloilo City, Cadungog added.
He said the plane was expected to communicate two minutes later but when there was none the airport personnel in Davao City immediately informed PAF that the C-130 was missing.
"We’re still verifying really as to what really transpired because this is something very unusual… the aircraft and the pilots were all OK before take off and everything was normal until that time," he said.