MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - A Philippine Air Force (PAF) pilot died while 3 other personnel were injured after the helicopter they were riding crashed on the shoreline of Getafe town in Bohol on Tuesday morning, authorities said.
The MD-520MG from the PAF 15th Strike Wing was on a maintenance flight from Mactan Island in Cebu when the crash happened at around 9:30 a.m., said PAF spokesman Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano.
"We can confirm that we have a downed aircraft in the vicinity of Bohol," Mariano told reporters.
The pilot died on the spot while the co-pilot and 2 crew members were able to jump into the sea prior to the crash, according to initial police report.
The PAF identified its "fallen airman" as Cpt. Aurelius Olano, and two of the injured personnel as A1C Rex Anapio and A1C Bonn Arasola. The identity of the injured co-pilot is being withheld in consideration of the parents' medical condition.
The survivors were brought to the Talibon Provincial Hospital after they were rescued by local fishermen. They are in stable condition, the PAF said.
"Mga fisherman ang naka-rescue sir, samtang gahuwat mi sa among biyahe padung sa Island Padanon, niabot sila. Mao 'to, nga na-crash kuno sila," said Asterio Suello, head of Getafe town's local disaster office.
(Fishermen rescued them… While we were waiting for our trip to Padanon Island [on a boat], they went to us [together with the other survivors], they said that their plane crashed.)
"Niingon 'tong usa nila, nga na'y missing nila, ang ilang piloto. Mao to, ni-take action dayon mi. Ni-search mi sa area. Ang gi-crashan, 10 meters ang gilawman. Nag-compressor mi. Na'y fisherman nga among gipasawom, nakuha namo ang pilot, pero patay na."
(They said someone is missing. We immediately went to the crash site and searched the area. The depth of the crash site is 10 meters. We immediately asked a fisherman to dive by using a compressor. We recovered the pilot, but he was already dead.)
"Right now, it's still under investigation," Mariano said when asked what caused the incident.
"The men and women of the Philippine Air Force, led by Commanding General Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, deeply grieves the loss of an aircrew who offered his life in the line of duty," the PAF said in a statement.
"The PAF will provide all necessary assistance and financial aid for the bereaved family," it added.
Following the incident, the PAF said its MG520 fleet has been grounded, even as it assured the public that all its air assets "are undergoing strict, regular, and redundant maintenance inspections before and after flight missions."
In January, a PAF helicopter on its way back from a resupply mission crashed in Bukidnon and left all of its 7 passengers dead.
--Report from DX Lapid
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