(Update 1: updates death toll, adds details)
Bangkok Desk, Jul 4 (EFE).- At least 31 people were killed Sunday and 17 went missing when a Philippines air force C-130 Hercules carrying 92 personnel crashed while landing at Jolo airport in Sulu province, authorities reported.
At least 54 people were rescued alive but injured, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement, adding that the 92 on board included three pilots and five crew.
At least two of the fatalities are civilians, while the rest of the dead are soldiers, authorities said in a late-afternoon update.
Thick black smoke and flames were seen in photos of the accident posted to social media.
“One of our C-130s, while transporting troops from Cagayan De Oro, missed the runway, tried to regain power but failed, and ended up crashing in Barangay Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu,” around 11.30 am local time (03:30 GMT), Philippines Armed Forces chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said in an earlier statement, according to the state Philippine News Agency.
Search and rescue operations are ongoing to locate some 35 others in the plane at the time of the accident.
Survivors have been transferred to a military hospital in the city of Busbus, authorities said.
The accident puts the spotlight back on the aging and poorly maintained arsenal of the Philippine Army, which generally acquires second – and even third – hand aircraft and helicopters.
Senator of the Philippines Richard Gordon called for an immediate investigation into the maintenance of military equipment.