MANILA - "Intense" rains were lashing Laguna province when an air-ambulance plane crashed at a resort area over the weekend, sparking a fierce blaze and leaving 9 people dead, authorities said Monday.
Dramatic video on social media showed emergency vehicles rushing toward a building engulfed in roaring flames in Barangay, Calamba City near Manila as authorities urged crowds to move away for their own safety on Sunday.
After dousing the blaze, rescuers found 9 bodies in the smoking ruins -- believed to be those aboard the King Air 350 light aircraft.
"Napakalakas po ng ulan during that time... Napakahirap nga din mag-provide ng report kasi noong time na iyun, ang buhos ng ulan intense po," Laguna police chief Col. Eleazar Mata tld radio DZMM.
(The rains was very heavy that time. It's also very difficult to provide a report because at time, the rain was intense.)
A low pressure area east of Mindanao intensified into tropical depression Liwayway on Sunday, the same day that tropical depression Kabayan, spotted west of Luzon, left the Philippine area of responsibility, said state weather bureau PAGASA.
The air ambulance was supposed to bring a patient and a medical team to Manila from Dipolog City when it crashed, said Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) spokesperson Eric Apolinario.
Authorities are investigating reports that one wing of the aircraft burst into flames before it crashed, added Apolinario, who declined to name the fatalities.
RESIDENTS SCRAMBLE FOR COVER
The aircraft circled over resort and residential establishments for almost 30 minutes before it plummeted onto Borres and Agojo resorts in Narra Street, said residents Haser Paminiano and Magno Quiño.
"Parang may kuryente sa pakpak, 'di ko sure na may kidlat,” Paminiano told ABS-CBN News.
"Umuusok pa nga e... Naawa ako [sa mga pasahero], hindi ko sila matulungan dahil di ako ganun kalakas," he added.
(It was as if there was electricity on the wing, I wasn't sure if there was lightning then. It was smoking. I pitied the passengers because I couldn't help them.)
Quiño said he ran around, warning neighbors to run for shelter.
“Narinig namin ang ugong ng airplane tapos maya-maya pumutok na siya... Syempre natatakot na hindi mo alam saan babagsak 'yun eh," he said.
(We heard a hum from the plane, it exploded a short while after. We were afraid because we did not know where it would crash.)
Among those killed were pilot Capt. Jesus Hernandez, co-pilot First Officer Lino Cruz Jr., Dr. Garret Garcia, nurses Kirk Eoin Badilla and Yamato Togawa, patient Tom Carr and his wife Erma, and 2 others namely Ryx Gil Laput and Raymond Bulacja, said police.
Police earlier said a mother and her son, who are the caretakers of a resort, were injured in the crash and rushed to hospital. Authorities have not reported any fatalities from those who were in the resort area when the plane went down.
The area where the plane crashed is home to numerous resorts that are packed with visitors during the hottest months.
Deadly light aircraft crashes are not unusual in the Philippines, where small planes are used to hop between the archipelago's numerous islands.
Ten people were killed in March 2018 when a plane went down after take off in Plaridel, Bulacan, which is near Manila. With reports from Agence France-Presse; Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News