MANILA - (UPDATED) A young doctor was among the 8 people who lost their lives when a Japan-bound plane erupted in flames during takeoff at the Manila airport this weekend, his sister said.
Dr. Nicko Bautista, 33, was on the Lionair-operated Westwind aircraft that was headed for Haneda airport Sunday, said his sister Ria. None of the medical evacuation mission's 6 crew members and 2 passengers, an American and a Canadian, had survived, investigators earlier said.
"No words can describe how devastating it is to lose a family member in such a horrific way. How do you process something like this. How," Ria, a singer-song writer, wrote on Facebook.
"All I know is that he fought like a hero and I can only hope that his fight would not be in vain. RIP, Nicko. I love you my brother. I will honor you forever," she added.
In a separate statement, the Department of Health said that hours before the accident, "the pilot and crew members just finished transporting health commodities and supplies to Zamboanga, Mactan, Iloilo, and Butuan."
"We would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the victims involved in the crash. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time," the DOH added.
Bautista was a doctor at the Mandaluyong City Medical Center's surgery department, said his sister.
He had said that he "can't wait" for the novel coronavirus epidemic to end so that he could spend time with his family and friends.
"I can't wait to not think about if I'm going to be sick or not. If I'm going to be another number of the census board... Let's fight this, and in all honesty, I'm scared as hell," he said in a Facebook post, a screenshot of which was shared by Ria.
In a separate post, Bautista also urged patients to disclose their travel history, after one COVID-19 patients failed to do so and passed the disease to a doctor, which led to his death.
"When you lie, we die... Consider your actions. We try our best to protect you from this horrid disease, but who will protect us? Kindly do your part. Stay at home. Don't lie to your doctors. Check your privilege," he said last March 21.
It was not immediately clear what caused the plane crash, which the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said might take a year to investigate.
Lionair is also the owner of a medical evacuation aircraft that crashed in Calamba, Laguna and left 9 dead in September last year. Authorities are still investigating the incident, said CAAP.