Philippine Air Force plane crashes, kills 45

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Rescue operations continue as a Philippine Air Force plane on Sunday crashed in the southern Philippines and claimed at least 45 lives — making it the worst military air mishap in several years.

According to CNN’s affiliate CNN Philippines, which cited Armed Forces Chief Cirilito Sobejana, the C-130 military plane was servicing military personnel from Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao to Sulu. It met with an accident as it missed the runway on Jolo island.

Ninety troops and crew were on board the aircraft when it crashed at 11:30 a.m. (local time) in the Patikul village.

“Minutes after the crash, troops and civilian volunteers rushed to the site for search and rescue. Per eyewitnesses, 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 Joint Task Force Sulu said in a press statement.

The destroyed plane was burning as thick smoke was moving from the village, as depicted in the images released by a local TV station.

Included in the casualties are the 42 troops and three civilians. At least 53 people have sustained injuries — 49 of them are military personnel while four are civilians, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The Joint Task Force Sulu furthered that 50 people were rushed to the hospital after the accident. There were also others who were brought to the city of “Zamboanga to undergo further treatment.”

The army added that there were still five troops who were still unaccounted for.

The personnel on board the plane “were supposed to report to their battalions today. They were supposed to join us in our fight against terrorism.”

Ninety-six people, who are mostly troops reporting for work, are on board the plane, said the Philippines Air Force to CNN.