Philippines sends black boxes to US to shed light on plane crash

The aircraft was carrying troops bound for counter-insurgency operations when it crashed with 96 aboard, killing 53.
The aircraft was carrying troops bound for counter-insurgency operations when it crashed with 96 aboard, killing 53.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippines will send black boxes of a Lockheed C-130 aircraft that crashed at the weekend to the United States, the military chief said on Wednesday (July 7).

The US has committed to help extract information from the flight data and cockpit voice recorders that could shed light on the incident that killed 53 people in the southern province of Jolo, General Cirilito Sobejana said in a television interview.

He added that the Philippines has no such capability. He did not say when the US experts could complete data extraction.

The plane was carrying troops bound for counter-insurgency operations when it crashed with 96 aboard, killing 53 in the country's worst military air accident in nearly three decades. Among the dead were three civilians on the ground.

Asked if bad weather or human error was involved, General Sobejana said he would await the investigators' official report.

"I told them to do it as fast as we can, but this should be deliberate," he added. "We wanted to get the accurate information or the facts."

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin offered additional help to Philippines counterpart Delfin Lorenzana when they spoke by phone on Tuesday.

They discussed critical medical evacuation support provided by US personnel and other possible assistance, including victim identification, according to a statement released in Washington.

General Sobejana said 16 of the casualties had been identified.

Some victims were burned beyond recognition, and authorities would rely on dental records and forensic testing to identify them.