A military plane, Lockheed C130 Hercules, has crashed in the southern Philippines while landing Sunday killing at least 31 people, with dozens more pulled alive from the burning wreckage. It exploded in the periphery of the Jolo airport in Sulu province. A number of soldiers were seen jumping out of the aircraft before it hit the ground. The aircraft had 96 people on board, including three pilots and five crew. Two of those killed and four of the injured were civilians on the ground. 17 were missing. The pilots survived but were seriously injured.The plane was carrying troops from Cagayan de Oro, on the southern island of Mindanao, reinforcements sent to the southern Philippines to combat Islamist militants such as the Abu Sayyaf group. Many of those on board had only recently completed basic military training.
The plane, previously in service with the US Air Force where it first flew in 1988, was handed to the Philippines in January. It was not immediately clear what caused the crash. Regional military commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan said it was unlikely that the aircraft took hostile fire. It appeared to have overshot the runway then crashed in the periphery of the airport. The Jolo runway is shorter than most others in the country. Sunday’s crash comes as the limited number of military aircraft has been further strained, as the air force helped transport medical supplies, vaccines and protective equipment to far-flung island provinces amid spikes in COVID-19 infections.