At least 29 people were killed and 50 injured on Sunday when the Philippines military aircraft carrying troops crashed and burst into flames after missing the runway in the country’s south, officials said.
Nearly 100 people, most of them recent army graduates, were on the C-130 Hercules transport plane which was trying to land on Jolo island in Sulu province around midday.
Pictures from the scene showed flames and smoke pouring from wreckage strewn among trees as men in combat uniform milled around, while a column of thick black smoke rose from the coconut palms into the sky.
Some of the soldiers were seen jumping out of the plane before it hit the ground and exploded into flames, said Major General William Gonzales, commander of the Joint Task Force-Sulu.
This is one of the country’s deadliest military aviation accidents.
“This is a sad day but we have to remain hopeful,” Gonzales said in a statement.
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“We enjoin the nation to pray for those who are injured and those who have perished in this tragedy.”
A search was still under way for 17 missing people.
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. In 1993, a Philippines Air Force C-130 crashed and reportedly killed 30 people. According to the Aviation Safety Network, a 2008 crash of the civilian variant of the Lockheed plane also flown by the Philippines Air Force killed 11 people.
The country’s worst plane crash was that of an Air Philippines Boeing 737 in 2000, which killed 131 people.