By Wisdom Deji-Folutile
At least 45 people have died in an Air Force plane crash in Southern Phillipines on Sunday.
Rescue and recovery operations are still ongoing, and officials have called it the country’s worst military air disaster in decades.
According to officials, the C-130 military plane was transporting troops from Cagayan de Oro, in Mindanao, to Sulu province when it missed the runway on the island of Jolo.
The plane, which was carrying more than 90 military personnel and crew, crashed into nearby Patikul village at 11:30am local time on Sunday (11:30 p.m. ET).
“Minutes after the crash, troops and civilian volunteers rushed to the site for search and rescue. Per eyewitnesses, a number of soldiers were seen jumping out of the aircraft before it hit the ground, sparing them from the explosion caused by the crash,” according to a press release by Joint Task Force Sulu.
According to the Philippines Military, among those killed are 42 military personnel and three civilians.
The civilians killed and injured were on the ground at the site of the crash.
At least 50 people were hospitalized after the crash, with some being evacuated to the city of “Zamboanga to undergo further treatment,” according to the statement by the Joint Task Force Sulu.
Five military personnel who were on board the plane are still missing, the army said.