The Philippine military has confirmed that eight members of a military family have been killed in an accidental plane crash shortly after takeoff.
The Aerostar AS-550 twin-engine turboprop crashed near a military airbase south of Manila, shortly after taking off at 6:20 a.m. on Friday. According to Reuters, one of the air force’s Chinese-made planes, which is leased by the military, “was flying at about the same altitude as the military transport aircraft which collided mid-air and burst into flames.”
The victims were identified as Command Master Sgt. Josestin Lavantlue, Cpl. Joseph Martin Carlin, Spc. Joshua Luke Tobias, Spc. Carlos Jure Tengchao, Spc. Alvin Campbell Atencio, Staff Sgt. Lim Cordisa, Spc. Ki Meri Gato, Spc. Joel Maguna Piroon, and Spc. Elvis Raymar Moreno Jimenez. Family members and friends identified the victims in a Facebook post.
Images published on the website of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) show the plane, which had been taking part in a military exercise, burning nearby, with the hooded silhouette of a man engulfed in flames. The New York Times reported that government officials have determined the pilot of the transport plane lost control shortly after takeoff, causing the crash.
One survivor of the crash, Lt. Col. Jonathan Alvarez of the Army’s Twenty-Sixth Infantry Division, told DZMM radio that the transport plane’s “engine exploded,” causing the cabin to lose pressurization and turning the plane into a ball of fire. He also noted that the bodies of the eight victims, along with a number of aviation rescue specialists, were found inside the wreckage.
“What the transport plane was doing while it was flying, I don’t think anyone understands. It was like high-speed and down, down,” Alvarez said. “I think [the crash] was an accident.”