Ninety-two people, most of them army personnel, were on board the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft when the accident happened as it tried to land on Jolo Island in Sulu province around midday on Sunday, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement.
“So far 40 wounded and injured were rescued and 17 bodies recovered,” Lorenzana said.
Earlier, General Cirilito Sobejana told reporters that at least 40 people have been rescued from the burning wreckage of the C-130.
“Responders are at the site now. We are praying we can save more lives,” Sobejana said. “It’s very unfortunate. The plane missed the runway, and it was trying to regain power but failed and crashed.”
Sobejana said the aircraft had been carrying troops from Cagayan de Oro on the southern island of Mindanao when it “missed the runway” as it tried to land on Jolo.
Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan, reporting from Manila said helicopters were deployed to transport the injured to a nearby hospital.
“The C-130 is one of the newly acquired planes by the Philippines air force. The area where the crashed happened is home to one of the huge bases of the Philippines military,” she added.
C-130 aircraft, the work horses of the air force, are used to transport troops and supplies. They are also often deployed to deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
A military spokesman, Colonel Edgard Arevalo, said there was no indication of any attack on the plane, but that a crash investigation had not begun and efforts were focused on rescue and treatment.
Pictures from the scene showed flames and smoke pouring from wreckage strewn among trees as men in combat uniform milled around. A large column of black smoke rose into the blue sky.
Three pilots and three airmen died when their S70-i went down near the Crow Valley training range north of Manila, prompting the grounding of the entire fleet.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES