MANILA - Another soldier who was among those wounded from the C-130 crash in Sulu last Sunday has passed away, bringing the death toll among government troops to 50, Philippine military chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said Tuesday.
With three civilians also perishing after the military cargo plane burst upon hitting ground on Jolo island, the number of deaths stood at 53 as of Tuesday, he said.
The latest fatality late Monday night succumbed to "chemical burns" on his face. "Baka naka-inhale ng smoke kaya yun ang nag-aggravate ng kaniyang medical condition," Sobejana said.
(He might have inhaled smoke, which aggravated his medical condition.)
The military chief said some of the remaining 46 injured personnel are still in critical condition, with four scheduled for transfer to hospitals in Davao City.
Four civilians were also injured during the crash that has been regarded as the worst air disaster involving a military plane in the country's history.
With 96 people aboard the plane at the time of the accident, Sobejana said the personnel and cargo load at the time was just within its acceptable capability, quoting the chief of the military's Air Mobility Command.
The ill-fated aircraft, which the Philippines acquired from the United States earlier this year, has a maximum payload capability of 19,000 kilograms.
While it was not brand new, having been used by the US since 1988, it was in very good condition, officials have said. It also has 11,000 flying hours left.
The aircraft, with tail number 5125, took off from Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base to Lumbia Airport and subsequently ferried personnel to Jolo, Philippine Air Force Spokesman Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano earlier said.
It overshot the runway while trying to land in sunny weather on Jolo island.
Sobejana told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo in an interview Tuesday afternoon that the plane's flight data recorder and voice cockpit recorder, which have been recovered, will be turned over to US authorities to retrieve their content.
The Philippines has no capability to open and assess the two blackboxes, he said.
While he can't provide a timetable to complete the process, Sobejana said their American counterparts promised to do it soonest.
"Ipagdasal po natin ang ating mga kasundaluhan, lalo na yung nakasama dun sa latest accident, yung crash sa Patikul, Sulu," Sobejana said.
(Let us pray for our soldiers, especially those who were hurt and killed in the latest accident, the crash in Patikul, Sulu.)