PAF probe team now at the C-130 crash site in Sulu

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(Photo of the C-130 crash site in Patikul, Sulu, courtesy of AFP)

MANILA – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) investigation team is now at the crash site in the town of Patikul, Sulu to begin its investigation into the ill-fated C-130H “Hercules” cargo plane which cost the at least 47 soldiers and three civilians lives last Sunday.

“For now, the investigation team has already arrived in the area to conduct their own investigation. They reportedly arrived last night but due to the lack of traffic lights in Sulu their trip was rescheduled early. this morning, “Philippine spokesman (AFP) said Monday, Marine Major General Edgard Arevalo at an online press conference.

Arevalo said AFP was determined to find out what really happened in Sunday’s tragic incident. According to the information available, the aircraft followed the specified protocols regarding “approach speed (and) point of landing”.

“What remains to be determined is what prompted the aircraft to (go) off the runway. This will be determined by a selected group of tested pilots who will be the ones who will assist in the conduct of the investigation,” did he declare. added.

Arevalo assured the public that AFP will be very transparent in the conduct of the investigation because the army wants to determine what really happened and will use all the information gathered during the investigation to prevent such incident does not happen again.

“Just like you, we are very and keenly interested (in) figuring out what happened because whatever we can do, whatever is humanly possible for us to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said he declared.

The AFP spokesperson also called on the public to avoid speculation or the dissemination of unverified information regarding the incident as it would not help the current situation.

“Likewise, we would like to inform you that apart from eyewitness accounts and data that Sulu’s control tower may have in its possession, we will also be looking for the black box or flight data recorder that we have. fortunate that this C-130 has therefore already cordoned off the area to ensure the integrity of the evidence and other materials, all items that could help us determine what exactly happened in this particular tragic incident, ”said he added.

Other aspects of the investigation include examining the facilities, equipment, weather conditions and skills of pilots.

“All of this will have to be taken into consideration and I would not want to venture on any of them until the investigation has been opened,” said the AFP spokesperson.

Arevalo said the C-130 involved in the crash is in perfect condition although it is not brand new.

“It is not brand new but it is in very good condition. Indeed, when it was delivered to AFP, it had more than 11,000 hours of flight time and when this accident occurred, it he still had about 11,000 flight hours before the next maintenance on this aircraft, “he added.

In addition, Arevalo said there was no truth to the rumors that the plane was faulty, adding that all of its pilots were all skilled, experienced and experienced in flying the C-130.

He said the C-130 is one of the toughest and most powerful aircraft in the nation’s inventory.

Arevalo said AFP was willing to share the results of the investigation provided it does not affect national security.

“We assure our people that we are indeed transparent and that the result of the survey is available when completed, it is just that all the results of (the) survey are not intended for public consumption, but s ‘There are specific issues that they would like to know about a particular incident that will not affect national security, we are more than willing to share it with the public, “he added.

The plane was one of two C-130Hs acquired with a grant from the US government that arrived in the country on January 29. He was officially welcomed into the PAF fleet during a ceremony at Villamor Air Force Base in Pasay City on February 18.

The C-130 is a four-turboprop military transport aircraft originally designed and built by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a personnel carrier, medical evacuation, and cargo aircraft.

Arevalo said they still had not disclosed the names of the survivors as not all families of fallen soldiers had been informed of the fate of their loved ones.

“We have not yet completed the necessary information or given information to relatives of the deceased, we need a process to (give this) information,” he added.

This includes having priests or ministers on the scene so that they can explain the incident or circumstances, a doctor preferably a doctor accompanied by a close relative who can watch or check the condition of the member of the family. family who will receive the said news.

“But we assure them that they will receive the necessary support and assistance that they deserve and we will also give the benefits that are due to our soldiers because they died in the line of duty,” said Arevalo.

He added that AFP chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana had also given instructions to ensure that the fastest and most efficient way is used to identify the victims so that their families can be informed immediately.

Arevalo said Sobejana will visit Sulu “in due course”.

As this developed, AFP’s public affairs bureau chief Captain (N) Jonathan Zata, in a message to reporters, said Sobejana had approved and ordered all military camps to put their flags at half mast for six days from Monday.

“For these camps with the wake of the dead, (this) will continue until internment,” he added.

In addition to the 47 servicemen killed in the crash, three other civilians also died in the C-130 crash, bringing the death toll to 50.

Some 49 soldiers and four civilians are being treated for injuries sustained in the accident at various hospitals in Sulu and the city of Zamboanga.

About 96 people are recorded in the flight manifest of the C-130, including three pilots and five crews.

“If (there is) a need for higher level medical treatment, care or facilities to treat our wounded soldiers, AFP is ready to bring them to Manila,” Arevalo said.

The AFP spokesperson also thanked airlines like Philippine Air Lines for expressing their intention to help with the medical evacuation of the wounded.

“And of course, Air Asia which is a training unit of the PAF auxiliary reserve which has also expressed its willingness to help with the medical evacuation,” he added.

Arevalo also said that all AFP air, sea and land transport assets are focused on ongoing recovery operations.

After the crash, the AFP spokesman said all remaining C-130s in the PAF fleet will be grounded.

Before the accident, the PAF had four C-130s in its fleet, including the one that crashed and two in maintenance.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said on Monday he had asked the director of the regional police office of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region to coordinate with local military units. who intervene on the scene so that they can deploy means that can help in the pursuit of recovery operations.

In addition, he added that the PNP is ready to provide all possible assistance to the families of the soldiers and civilians affected. (with reports from Lloyd Caliwan / PNA)


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