A Philippine air force C-130 plane carrying troops crashed in a southern province on Sunday after losing track and at least 40 people on board were rescued from the burning wreckage, the military chief said.
Chief of Staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana did not immediately say if there were any casualties after it crashed while landing shortly before noon in the village of Bangkal in the mountainous city of Patikul in Sulu province.
Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana said the plane was carrying 92 people, including three pilots and five other crew members, according to his initial reports.
The plane was carrying troops from the southern city of Cagayan de Oro, Sobejana said. Government forces have been fighting the Abu Sayyaf militants in the predominantly Muslim province of Sulu for decades.
“It is very unfortunate,” Sobejana told reporters. “The plane lost the runway and was trying to regain power, but it misfired and crashed.”
Sobejana said that at least 40 people on board were taken to a hospital and that troops were trying to save the rest.
It was not immediately clear what caused the accident. But army spokesman Colonel Edgard Arévalo said the accident was not thought to have been caused by an attack and that the focus was now on rescuing the survivors and not investigating the cause.
The airport in Sulu’s main city, Jolo, is located a few kilometers from a mountainous area where troops have fought against Abu Sayyaf. Some militants have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group.
The United States and the Philippines have separately blacklisted Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings. It has been considerably weakened by years of government offensives, but it remains a threat.