MANILA - The military is searching for a crashed C-130 plane's flight data recorder to unravel the cause of the incident that killed 47 soldiers on board, its spokesperson said Monday.
The Philippine Air Force C-130 aircraft, carrying troops bound for counter-insurgency operations, crashed in Patikul, Sulu Sunday. A total of 49 soldiers survived the crash.
"We are looking for the flight data recorder for us to be able to identify and determine with technical specifications kung ano ang nangyari dito sa pag-crash nito ng ating C-130 aircraft (on why the C-130 crashed)," Major Gen. Edgard Arevalo, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told ANC.
Based on initial information, the aircraft overshot the runway at Jolo airport then crashed into the nearby town of Patikul.
"Tama ang kaniyang speed paglapag (The speed was correct when it landed). The gears landed on the right spot. Subalit (However), for unknown reason, ay nag-overshoot ito sa runway kaya ito ang aalamin sa investigation (it overshot and that's what we'll be investigating)," Arevalo said.
He said there was no sign of any attack on the plane.
Arevalo said the 3 pilots and 5 crew, who also died in the crash, were "all seasoned and experienced and with appropriate credentials."
The aircraft, with registration 5125, arrived in the Philippines only last January, he said.
A government website said the crashed plane was 1 of 2 aircraft provided by the US government through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. It quoted an air force spokesman as saying the aircraft would boost capability for heavy airlift missions.
Arevalo said the military grounded the C-130 fleet as investigation into the crash continued.
"It's very important na it's best na this aircraft is very much airworthy. Kasama ito sa bagong deliver lamang sa atin last January (It's part of what was just delivered to us in January)," he said.
The military command earlier said the soldiers aboard had the rank of private and were being deployed to their battalions. They were flying to the provincial airport of Jolo from Laguindingan, about 460 kilometers to the northeast.
The army in the sprawling Philippine archipelago has been fighting a long war against Islamist militants from Abu Sayyaf and other factions.
-- With a report from Reuters