A medical evacuation plane exploded in a ball of flames during takeoff on Sunday in the Philippine capital, killing all eight passengers and crew on board, officials said.
The plane, which was carrying six Filipino crew members, an American and a Canadian, was bound for Japan on a medical mission when it caught fire near the end of the main runway, Manila airport general manager Ed Monreal said.
Firetrucks and rescue personnel rushed and doused the aircraft with foam to try to extinguish the flames, he said.
“Unfortunately, there were no survivors,” Monreal told a late-night news conference.
This photo apparently shows the wreckage of the small plane that burst into flames at Manila’s airport. (Facebook via Ray Tarol)
The plane, owned by a Philippines-registered charter service Lionair, had been bound for Haneda, Japan, but burst into flames at the end of the runway around 8 p.m. local time, Manila’s main airport said.
Indonesian carrier Lion Air issued a statement making clear that it is unrelated to Manila-based Lionair.
Nearly three hours after the accident, the bodies of the victims were still inside the wreckage. Airport authorities were waiting for police investigators to examine the crash scene before retrieving the remains, Monreal said.
The airport’s main runway was closed due to the accident. The airport had only minimal staff due to air travel restrictions that are part of a month-long lockdown imposed by the government in the main northern Philippine region of Luzon, where Manila, the capital, lies, to fight the coronavirus outbreak, officials said.
Photos from our team on the ground. <a href=”https://t.co/5SYvVxkcZk”>pic.twitter.com/5SYvVxkcZk</a>
A Korean Airlines flight bound for Manila was diverted to Clark International Airport, north of Manila, due to the incident, Monreal said, adding that the main runway would be reopened as soon as the wreckage was removed.
Donaldo Mendoza, the deputy chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said the aircraft was deemed “airworthy” based on records and its pilots were properly certified to fly.
The plane had flown to central Iloilo province Saturday to deliver medical supplies without any incident, Mendoza said.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said the Agusta WW24 aircraft apparently encountered an unspecified “technical problem” as it rolled to takeoff.
Video footage shows the aircraft engulfed in brigh -orange flames in the darkness as firefighters scramble to put out the fire by spraying chemical foam while sirens blare.
An investigation by the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines was underway, MIAA said.