COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / January 28, 2010) – An ageing Philippine Air Force Nomad aircraft crashed Thursday in Cotabato City in the southern region of Mindanao, killing all 8 people onboard, including a senior military commander, officials said.
Major Randolph Cabangbang, a regional military spokesman, said among the dead was Major General Mario Butch Lacson, commander of the 3rd Air Division in Zamboanga City.
Cabangbang said the plane crashed on a village in Cotabato City two minutes after it took off at around 11:35 a.m. at a military base in Maguindanao province. “It is a sad day for us. All eight passengers and crew perished in the crash,” he told the regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.
Lacson’s group came from a conference in Davao City and was returning to Zamboanga City, but their plane had a brief stopped at an air force base in Maguindanao’s Awang town.
Other reports said soldiers pulled out the charred remains of the passengers, including two pilots and a crewman. It was unknown whether there casualties on the ground, but the plane crashed in two houses which caught fire.
Cabangbang said there is an ongoing investigation into the crash. “We still don’t know what happened, but the plane is quite old. There is an ongoing investigation,” he said.
The Philippine Air Force has one of the oldest fleet of air crafts in the world, including about a dozen Nomad plane. (Mark Navales, Geo Solmerano and Beck de Asis contributed to this report)