Death toll in C-130 crash in Sulu climbs to 53

In this handout photo taken on July 4, 2021 and received from the Philippine military Joint Task Force-Sulu (JTF-Sulu), rescue workers arrive as smoke billows from the wreckage of a Philippine Airforce C-130 transport plane after it crashed near the airport in Jolo town, Sulu province on the southern island of Mindanao. (Photo by Handout / Joint Task Force-Sulu / AFP) 

(Eagle News) — The number of fatalities in the C-130 crash in Sulu over the weekend has risen to 53.

According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the fatalities included three civilians from Bangkal in Patikul, where the military plane crashed and burst into flames on Sunday, July 4.

AFP Chief Cirilito Sobejana said in a television interview of the 50 soldiers who were killed, 16 have been identified.

He said they were identified through DNA tests and dental records.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ordered a probe into the incident, which the Philippine Air Force has denied took place because of overloading.

Sobejana said authorities have already secured the black box or the flight data recorder, which will be sent to the United States to be opened.

“Sila naman ay nag-commit na kung matatanggap na nila ay bubuksan nila kaagad upang basahin kung ano ang nilalaman nito at ipasa kaagad sa atin para makatulong nang malaki sa pag-imbestiga kung ano ang sanhi ng pagbagsak ng C-130 (They gave the assurance they would open the black box as soon as they receive it and give us the information to help us in determining why the plane crashed),” Sobejana said.

The C-130 plane purchased from the US had come from Cagayan de Oro and was about to land at Jolo airport when the incident happened around 11:30 a.m.

Around 50 people were also injured in what some media have dubbed as the Philippines’ worst military air accident in three decades.