SULAIMANI (ESTA) — At least 29 people were killed on Sunday after an aircraft carrying Philippine troops crashed and broke up in flames in the southern Philippines.
The Lockheed C-130 transport aircraft carrying troops bound for counter-insurgency operations crashed with 96 aboard at Patikul in the far southern province of Sulu, according to Reuters.
The Philippines’ military said in a statement that 29 bodies were retrieved and 50 people had been taken to hospital, leaving 17 unaccounted for.
It added that there was still hope for survivors.
“A number of soldiers were seen jumping out of the aircraft before it hit the ground, sparing them from the explosion caused by the crash,” the unit, the Joint Task Force Sulu, said in the statement.
Military chief Cirilito Sobejana said the plane had “missed the runway trying to regain power”.
The military command 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 km (290 miles) to the northeast.
Jolo island is about 950 km (600 miles) south of the capital, Manila.
The Lockheed C-130H Hercules aircraft, with registration 5125, had only recently arrived in the Philippines.
It was one of two aircraft provided by the U.S. government through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, a government website said in January. It quoted an air force spokesman as saying the aircraft would boost capability for heavy airlift missions.
The Philippines armed forces have had a patchy air safety record. Last month a Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a training mission, killing six people.
A Philippines Air Force C-130 crash in 1993 killed 30 people. A 2008 crash of the civilian variant of the Lockheed plane flown by the Philippines Air Force killed 11 people, the Aviation Safety Network says.
The country’s worst plane crash was that of an Air Philippines Boeing 737 in 2000, which killed 131 people.
*This story was updated at 02:54 p.m. EBL time