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Headline of the Week: Philippine Air Force C-130 Crash

Air Force: Missing C-130 plane did not carry explosives

MANILA, Philippines - Amid speculations that the missing C-130 aircraft exploded in mid-air, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Saturday said the plane was not carrying any explosives.

GMA News reporter Marisol Abdurahman, in her report over QTV’s Balitanghali , said that according to various accounts of fishermen, the plane hasn’t even risen that high yet when the aircraft exploded in mid-air last Monday night.

Although pieces of body parts, boots, pieces of aircraft material and uniform were found in the sea, the Air Force said that search and recovery teams still couldn’t conclude that the C-130 really did explode.

Kung sasabog ho ang engine, dapat may makikita tayong mga (If it really did explode then we would have seen an) explosion o kung sakali mang sumabog iyon, dapat may (if it did explode) pieces of evidence na marerecover (would be recovered)," said Major General Jobito Gammad, head of PAF’s investigating team, in a press conference.

The Air Force also assured the public that the missing aircraft was not carrying any explosives.

It added that the two army soldiers who were on board the C-130, Corporal Bernie Sabangan and Master Sergeant Remijio Libres, were not carrying explosives either. The two were not included in the first list of passengers given to the media.

Authorities earlier identified those on board the plane were Maj. Manuel A. Zambrano, pilot; Capt. Adrian de Dios, co-pilot; and its crew members — Technical Sergeant Lobregas Constantino and Staff Sergeants John Ariola, Gerry Denioso, Felix Patraica, Pedronelo Fernandez, Patricio Romeo Gaor, and Aldrin Illustrisimo.

Sabangan and Libres were reported to have been only in charge of transporting portable communication equipment from Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija to the Davao International Airport.

Hindi sila bababa dahil ang role nila (They wouldn’t go down because their role) is to go back. ’Yun lang ang ang role nila, mag-escort ng (That’s their only role, to escort) equipment," said Colonel Roy Deveraturda, PAF operations officer.

Meanwhile, Task Force Hercules is focused on the rescue and retrieval of possible survivors and of the aircraft itself. A fish company also recently lent its echo finder to the navy which can help detect entities up to 2,000 feet underwater.

According to the map that the task force plotted, their search would cover the area between Davao Del Sur and Samal, an island city of Davao Del Norte.

A left foot with a pilot’s shoe was found in Davao del Sur while a right foot was found in Samal Island. Tire debris and oil slick were also found, making the task force believe that the crash site might be between the two areas, officials have said.

Navy Captain Arnel Gonzales, in charge of the search operations, said that the debris found may have been carried by the high tide. - Kimberly Jane Tan, GMANews.TV

Missing PAF C-130 plane’s location may have been found - report

MANILA, Philippines - The search and retrieval team on Saturday said that they may have found the location of the wreckage of the missing C-130 plane of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

According to GMA 7’s Flash Report, the plane’s suspected location was found after a navy ship, attached with an echo sounder, patroled the Davao Gulf on Friday.

However, the group is still not sure if what they found was really the missing plane.

The C-130 aircraft was said to have left the Davao International Airport at about 8:50 p.m. on Monday to pick up people from the Presidential Security Group (PSG) in Ilolilo City and then bring them back to Manila.

The plane carried two pilots, seven crewmen and two army soldiers. Officials reportedly lost contact with the aircraft 10 minutes after its take off and has since then been feared to have crashed.KJ Tan, GMANews.TV

US navy to help retrieve downed PAF plane

MANILA/DAVAO, Philippines — he United States’ Navy service ship USNS McDonnell is expected to arrive Saturday afternoon (Aug. 30) to help the Philippine military in the retrieval of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 cargo plane, which crashed on Monday and is now resting 600 meters below the Davao Gulf.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DoH) assured Davao residents that the risk to marine life and health from the downed plane is close to zero, this after the wreckage of the cargo plane, carrying at least 14,800 liters of A-1 jet fuel, started to leak oil.

Lt. Gen. Pedrito S. Cadungog, commanding general of the PAF, told reporters Friday that the USNS McDonnell, a service ship that is "equipped with side scanning radar," would probably be coming from Hawaii, where the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) is based.

Side scan radar is used for locating shipwrecks, downed aircraft, drums, tires, pipelines and other items in rivers, lakes, or ocean floors.

The USNS McDonnell will be reporting directly to Col. Isagani Silva, commander of the PAF’s Tactical Operations Group once it arrives.

A statement from the Air Force said the USPACOM move to send the McDonnell was in response to the Philippines’ request for assistance to recover the C-130. Earlier this week, Mr. Cadungog said even with the modern equipment that the divers used in their search, rescue and retrieval operations for the past few days, it still wasn’t enough to reach the bottom of the gulf where the wreck was believed to be located.

He said the depth of the area was about 600 to 800 feet, while divers are only capable of reaching a depth of 200 to 300 feet below sea level.

The wreckage is found between the waters of Barangay Bukana on the Davao shoreline and Samal Island. No health risks

Meanwhile, the health department in the Davao region has assured the public that the toxicity risk to Davao Gulf’s marine life and health due to the crash is close to zero.

Dr. Pauline Jean R. Ubial, regional director of the DoH-XI, said the large volume of water in the Davao Gulf would dissipate the effects of any oil spill before it could pose a danger to the health of the people and marine life.

In fact, she said, the government has not issued a fish ban in Davao City and the fishermen are allowed to continue to catch fish in the gulf. This came after the department had consulted with the University of the Philippines-National Toxicology Center and the National Epidemiology Center.

The Davao Gulf supplies about 22,000 metric tons of fish per year to the local market, data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-XI (BFAR-XI) showed.

Margarita Moran-Floirendo, executive director of the Save the Davao Gulf Foundation, said that the Davao Gulf remains the second largest in terms of marine biodiversity in the country, with 11 marine mammal species. However, as a precautionary measure, the Health department has issued an advisory asking the public, among others, to: stay at least 25 to 50 meters away from the fuel spill site; not to light cigarettes, torches, or open fires on the shorelines within a 50-meter radius of the site; and stay upwind.

Interviewed by reporters, Councilor Leonardo R. Avila III of the committee on environment said any volatile liquid like high-octane gas would only be dangerous in a small body of water, which is not the case in Davao Gulf. He said the local government unit is coordinating with the Philippine Coastguard and the BFAR-XI to check their monitoring mechanisms to see if there are any adverse effects from the oil spill. Plane crash

The C-130 cargo ship got lost on Monday minutes after taking off from the Davao International Airport. It was supposed to go to Iloilo City to pick up members of the Presidential Security Group to be brought to Manila.

The cargo ship was reportedly carrying two pilots, seven crew members, and two unidentified Philippine Army personnel.

They were pilot Maj. Manuel A. Zambrano, co-pilot Captain Adrian B. de Dios, T/Sgt. Constantino Enrique R. Lobrigas (flight engineer), S/Sgt. John M. Areola (student flight engineer), S/Sgt. Gary T. Dinoso (crew chief), S/Sgt. Felix Pedro M. Patriarca (flight mechanic), S/Sgt. Petronilo F. Fernandez (load master), S/Sgt. Patricio R. Claur, Jr. (load master), S/Sgt. Aldrin A. Illustrisimo (student load master).

No survivors have been found. — Aizel Joyce A. Catipay and Joel B. Escovilla, BusinessWorld

Authorities broaden C-130 search to cover Davao del Norte

MANILA, Philippines - Rescuers have now broadened their search area for the bodies of the crew and parts of the ill-fated plane to include waters off Davao del Norte, as search and retrieval operations continued on its fourth day.

In a report aired over QTV's Balitanghali, GMA News reporter Raffy Tima said as of Friday morning, authorities have found more body parts, shoes and parts of the aircraft as authorities abandoned hopes of anyone surviving the crash.

The report noted that aside from the Philippine Navy ships that circle the area, a Philippine Air Force chopper also hovers above the waters twice a day along with a Nomad plane from the Philippine Coast Guard in search for plane debris and the crewmen's remains.

Rescuers are also currently coordinating with the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) following a witness’ statement that a ship passed by the plane’s crash site shortly after the plane plummeted to the waters.

The exact site of the crash may be determined based on the route of the ship, said the rescue team’s commander, Navy Captain Arnel Gonzales.

“So ito ngayon yung vine-verify namin with Commodore Dabin, yung Coast Guard district commander. Makita sana kung anong barko yung time na yun na papasok o papalabas para at least pwede natin makuhanan ng information kasi itong channel na to, piloting waters so most likely manned yung ano niya, yung piloting house. So any incident na diyan sa, surrounding that area, maoobserbahan," said Gonzales.

A separate report by GMA News reporter Marisol Abduhraman said the Air Force has dismissed sabotage and inclement weather as the reasons for the plane crash, saying the weather was stable and security tight during the plane’s take off in the Davao International Airport .

Instead, the Air Force is now investigating possibilities of human error – not just on the crew’s part but also on the team that helped them take off – and material failure.

Authorities will closely inspect the recovered plane parts to determine if there was damage before the plane crashed, said the report.

The report added that the Air Force also confirmed Thursday that two Army soldiers were also on the plane aside from the nine Air Force troops earlier named.

Corporal Benjie Sabangan and Master Sergeant Remigio Libres reportedly got on the plane at Fort Magsaysay and was on it all the way to Manila .

The soldiers reportedly guarded portable communication equipment transferred to Davao .

“We are still in the process of info gathering, pieces we are gathering, wala pang talagang analysis on what we have gathered kasi bits and pieces pa lang," said Major General Jovito Gammad, head of the Air Force investigating team.

In a separate report, GMA News reporter Tek Ocampo said there was no indication that the plane’s fate would be tragic based on the transcripts of communications between the C-130 crew and the control tower at the Davao International Airport .

The plane took off at 8:54 pm Monday, with the crew’s last words to the people at the tower were “Good night, ma’am."

Four minutes later, however, there was no answer from the crew when the tower tried to call them twice. Another call at 8:59 p.m. was likewise unanswered, but “unintelligible sounds" could be heard, said the report.

The tower reportedly shifted to another frequency in its effort to get hold of the crew but there was still no response.

The ill-fated C-130 aircraft was supposed to pick up members of the Presidential Security Group in Iloilo but eventually lost contact with the command center minutes after it took off from the Davao City International Airport .

Authorities said the cargo plane may have crashed about 2.5 nautical miles southeast of Davao City and three nautical miles southwest of the Island Garden City of Samal. - Johanna Camille Sisante, GMANews.TV

Search for missing C-130, crewmen continues for 3rd day

MANILA , Philippines – Authorities continued the search and retrieval operations for the missing C-130 aircraft and its crewmembers for the third day, as investigators remain clueless on the cause of the plane crash.

QTV's Balitanghali reported that rescue divers continued their search and retrieval operations for the missing C-130 aircraft and its crewmen despite strong currents that are hampering their operations.

Rescuers used small naval boats with sonar underwater radars to detect the plane’s fragments and the victims’ body parts.

Earlier in the day, rescuers have abandoned hopes of finding survivors as efforts have refocused on recovering body parts of victims.

The report also said the task force overseeing the search and retrieval operations transferred its command center from Bucana village near the crash site to the headquarters of the Philippine Coast Guard at the Sta. Ana Wharf.

This is to ensure better security and a wider space to conduct an inventory of recovered human parts and plane debris, the report said.

Lack of search and rescue facilities also prompted the Air Force to ask from the United States more advanced sonar detectors to fast-track arrangements in acquisition of the plane.

Also, authorities are looking into reports that the aircraft had eleven passengers instead of nine.

The report said that the Air Transportation Office will verify the reports by recovering radio transmissions between the Davao International Airport and the C-130 plane before it crashed.

The C-130 Hercules cargo airplane crashed into the Davao Gulf on Monday evening. The ill-fated aircraft was supposed to pick up members of the Presidential Security Group in Iloilo but eventually lost contact with the command center minutes after it took off at the Davao City International Airport.

Authorities said the plane crash-landed about 2.5 nautical miles southeast of Davao City and three nautical miles southwest of the Island Garden City of Samal.

Authorities earlier identified the plane's pilot as Maj. Manuel A. Zambrano and his co-pilot as Capt. Adrian de Dios. The crew members were Technical Sergeant Lobregas Constantino, and Staff Sergeants John Ariola, Gerry Denioso, Felix Patraica, Pedronelo Fernandez, Patricio Romeo Gaor, and Aldrin Illustrisimo. - Sophia Dedace, GMANews.TV

Lightning may have caused C-130 crash - PAF chief

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is not dismissing the possibility that lightning could have caused the crash of a C-130 transport plane off Davao last Monday despite the fact that it was equipped with a lightning arrester.

“Although it has an arrester, we will investigate the degree of the lighting... because that is a possibility,” said PAF chief Lt. Gen. Pedrito Cadungog, who flew to Mactan airbase in Lapu-Lapu City Wednesday aboard a commercial plane to personally attend to the grieving family of the pilots and crewmembers of the aircraft.

Cadungog said they will pursue the angle based on an eyewitness account that said lightning struck the area shortly before the burning aircraft was seen plummeting into the water.

“He (witness) said that a lightning struck and he saw the plane into flames before it crashed. All of that will be subjected to scientific expert evaluation by our investigation team,” Cadungog said.

He said other angles that investigators are considering are pilot factor and materiel failure.

The plane, acquired in 1983 through the United States financing program, had taken off from the Davao City airport and was on its way to Iloilo City to fetch personnel from the Presidential Security Group when it met the tragedy.

It was being piloted by Maj. Manuel Zambrano and Capt. Adrian de Dios and had seven crewmembers.

Asked if there was an indication that there was an explosion prior to the crash, the Air Force chief said, “None, none.”....

“Even the eyewitness did not describe it (aircraft) as exploding. What he said is that there was lightning,” he said. - GMANews.TV

Task force begins underwater search for missing C-130 crew

MANILA, Philippines - A task force searching for missing crew members of a C-130 cargo plane that crashed off Davao Gulf started an underwater search Wednesday morning using a specialized camera to look for traces of the victims.

Radio dzBB reported that as of 9 a.m., members of Task Force C-130 lowered an underwater closed-circuit camera to look for traces of the crew, but have so far found nothing positive.

The task force centered its operations on Davao Gulf, where the C-130 was believed to have crashed shortly after takeoff Monday night.

Earlier in the day, Coast Guard rescuers prepared to dive into the waters of Davao Gulf and received last-minute instructions before starting the search operations.

Listed as passengers of the ill-fated C-130 plane were:

• Maj.Manuel Sambrano, the plane’s pilot;
• Capt. Adrian de Dios, co-pilot;
• Flight Technical Sergeant Constantino Lobregas;
• Staff Sergeant Petronilo Fernandez,
• Staff Sergeant John Arriola;
• Staff Sergeant Gerry Delioso;
• Staff Sergeant Felix Pedro Patriarga;
• Staff Sergeant Patricio Claur Jr; and
• Staff Sergeant Aldrin Ilustrisimo.

Navy Capt. Rosauro Gonzales, who is in charge of the ongoing search for the ill-fated aircraft, had earlier said that the wreck was traced about 2.5 nautical miles southwest of Samal Island and is about 600 feet under water. - GMANews.TV

PAF grounds remaining C-130 planes for scrutiny

MANILA, Philippines - Following the crash of a C-130 cargo plane off Davao Monday night, the Philippine Air Force has grounded the rest of its C-130 fleet pending a comprehensive inspection.

PAF commanding general Lt. Gen. Pedrito Cadungog said Wednesday he expects the inspection of the fleet, which presently has only one working plane, to be finished within the day (Wednesday).

"(The grounding will be in effect) until such time we have conducted a comprehensive inspection. Probably today matatapos ang inspection (The inspection will probably be completed today)," Cadungog said in an interview on dzXL radio.

He also said the loss of the C-130 plane will have a big effect on PAF operations, especially in the ferrying of troops, cargo and relief goods.

Cadungog said he is "hoping" the grounding of the C-130 fleet will be brief.

"When it comes to emergencies we will immediately perform the mission (but) I'm hoping sandali lang pag-ground (I'm hoping the grounding will be for a short time)," he said.

On the other hand, he said the loss of the C-130 plane will have little, if any effect, on ongoing operations against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao.

Earlier, PAF spokesman Maj. Gerry Zamudio admitted the loss of the C-130 cargo plane will leave the PF) with only three working cargo planes at most.

In an interview on dzBB radio, Zamudio said said two more C-130 planes are due for repair (and be operational) "in a few weeks and (be operational) in months."

But he said that with the missing C-130 plane, the government will only have three working C-130 planes at most. - GMANews.TV

Davao residents report seeing ‘something big’ crash into sea

MANILA , Philippines – In the heels of a military C-130 plane gone missing, two residents of a coastal village in Davao City on Tuesday reported seeing “a huge object" crash into the Davao Gulf but did not confirm it was an aircraft.

In an interview with dzBB, Robert Olan-Olan, village chairman of Brgy. Bucana, said that one resident and one fisherman claimed to have seen the crash incident on Monday night.

“So far, dalawang tao ang nag-confirm ngayon. Yung isa, ilang meters nandoon siya kung saan bumagsak, at saka yung isang mangingisda na taga rito sa amin. Sabi na may nakita doon sa laot (So far, two have already reported the information. One of them claimed being only meters away from the crash site, while a fisherman claimed seeing something in the deep sea)," Olan-Olan said.

"Di na-recognize ng tao dahil umuulan (Many could not recognize it because it was raining)," he added.

As of posting time, search-and-rescue choppers from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) are verifying the information from the witnesses by taking them to the reported crash site.

In the interview, Olan-Olan said based on the residents' reports, debris were found on the surface of the Davao Gulf. “Bumagsak sa hulihan ng isda, sa dinadaanan ng barko ... Malalim, di namin makita kung may lumulutang, wala kaming makita (The plane supposedly fell into the water, but it was too deep. We could not see if anything was floating)," he said.

Olan-Olan said local police rushed to the area to check the reported sighting. But he said many residents could not be sure if it was the plane that crashed because it was raining Monday night.

He added that more authorities arrived in the area to verify the claims that the plane crashed

“Andito ang Philippine National Police City director namin and yung station commander at saka yung mga Air Force, nandito lahat (The city police director is here, the station commander and those from the Air Force. They are all here)," Olan-Olan said.

He added that local officials and policemen are also helping out in the Air Force’s rescue operations. - Sophia Dedace, GMANews.TV


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