It is the country’s worst military air disaster in decades as the C-130 military plane, transporting troops from Cagayan de Oro, in Mindanao, to Sulu province missed the runway on the island of Jolo, CNN reports.
The news agency cited Armed Forces Chief Cirilito Sobejana saying the plane, which was carrying 96 military personnel and crew, crashed into nearby Patikul village at 11:30 a.m. local time on Sunday.
“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,” according to a press release by Joint Task Force Sulu.
All victims have now been accounted for. Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, a spokesman for the military said 47 army personnel died, while 49 survived the crash and are being treated in hospitals. Three civilians on the ground were killed and four were injured, Arevalo said.
He added that the soldiers on the flight were fresh graduates and had just completed military training.
An investigative team arrived Monday to look for the plane’s flight data recorder and probe what caused the crash.
A similar crash happened recently in Nigeria killing the country’s topmost military officers, including its Chief of Army Staff.