By Karen Lema
MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine authorities have retrieved both the flight data and cockpit voice recorders from an Air Force plane that crashed at the weekend killing more than 50 people, the military chief told Reuters on Tuesday.
The pilot in command, who had several years of experience flying a C-130 aircraft, was among those who died in the crash on Jolo island, Cirilito Sobejana said by telephone.
He said the black boxes should enable investigators to listen to the conversations of the pilots and crew before the plane crashed.
“I spoke to the survivors and they said the plane bounced two to three times and zig-zagged. The pilot tried to regain power because he wanted to lift the plane but it was too late. The right wing hit a tree,” he said.
Sobejana said no one jumped from the aircraft before it crashed. There were earlier witness accounts that some passengers had tried to leap to safety.
He said the front of the aircraft was sliced open and some of the soldiers took advantage of the opening to escape. Others were unconscious when the plane burst into flames.
The Lockheed C-130 transport aircraft was carrying troops bound for counter-insurgency operations in the south when it crashed with 96 aboard.
The death toll in the country’s worst military air accident in nearly three decades had risen to 53, including three civilians on the ground, after one of the 47 injured soldiers succumbed on Monday night, Sobejana told reporters.
Military spokesman Edgard Arevalo on Monday said the plane was in “very good condition” and had 11,000 flying hours remaining before its next maintenance was due.
(Reporting by Karen Lema; additional reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Kim Coghill, Ed Davies, Martin Petty)