Final Death Toll of Philippines Plane Crash Triples to 51

At least 51 people have been killed after a military plane crashed on Jolo Island in the southern Philippines.

According to Pasig-based online news website Rappler, all 96 passengers on board the Philippines military plane had been accounted for earlier Monday.

It added the Armed Forces of the Philippines had announced 51 had been killed when the C-130 Hercules plane crashed near Patikul village, in the Sulu region, at around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.

The outlet reported 48 of those killed were trainees from the 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro City. Three civilians died when the plane crashed into the island.

It is much higher than the original death toll published by Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who initially said 17 had perished in the crash.

The survivors, which included four civilians, were taken to hospitals or medical centers in the region or on the southern island of Mindanao.

In a statement the Joint Task Force Sulu said: "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."

I have ordered a full investigation to get to the bottom of the C-130 incident, as soon as the rescue and recovery operation is completed.

I ask everyone to join us in praying for the the pilots, crew, passengers of the ill-fated C-130 aircraft as well as their families.

— Delfin Lorenzana (@del_lorenzana) July 4, 2021

Images from a local TV station showed a large thick plume of smoke and
the crashed plane burning among the trees.

Yesterday, Lorenzana tweeted: "I have ordered a full investigation to get to the bottom of the C-130 incident, as soon as the rescue and recovery operation is completed.

"I ask everyone to join us in praying for the pilots, crew, passengers of the ill-fated C-130 aircraft as well as their families."

A team has since arrived at the crash site to probe what happened and to examine the flight data recorder in order to establish what happened to the plane.

He also denied allegations that the Philippine Air Force had used defective equipment and that it somehow contributed to the cause of the crash.

According to CNN, the Lockheed Martin C-130 plane was said to be in good condition and had a remaining 11,000 flying hours left before it was due for maintenance.

In an additional statement shared on the Department of National Defense Twitter account, Lorenzana said: "We call on the public to refrain from spreading highly speculative statements about the unfortunate incident.

"With the investigations of the past mishaps still ongoing, such speculations are as of yet baseless and disrespectful to all the affected men and women of the Philippine Air Force, AFP, and their families."

Newsweek has contacted the Philippines Department of National Defense for comment.

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