At least 45 people were killed, including three civilians on the ground, and it was feared that the toll would climb.
The head of the Philippine armed forces, Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, said that the plane missed a runway while trying to land and that it crashed near a village called Bangkal in the town of Patikul, a stronghold of the militant group known as Abu Sayyaf.
The Philippine Plane Crash 2021 reports that 42 who were on the plane had been confirmed dead, with another 49 injured and five others still unaccounted for.
“We remain to be hopeful that we could find more survivors,” Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, the Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said in a statement.
Military officials said that in addition to the three civilians on the ground who had been killed, 53 others had been injured.
Philippines Military Plane Crashes With 96 soldiers Aboard
The soldiers on the plane that crashed on Sunday were being flown to Jolo to bolster the military’s operations against Abu Sayyaf, a small Islamist group that the Philippine government considers a terrorist organization.
“They were supposed to join us in our fight against terrorism,” General Gonzales said. “These individuals were supposed to report to their battalions today.”
In addition to the 96 people aboard the plane, a C-130 Hercules, there were also five military vehicles, officials said. The C-130, an American-built turboprop, is used by militaries around the world and is sometimes kept in service for decades.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he had “ordered a full investigation to get to the bottom of the incident, as soon as the rescue and recovery operation is completed.”
The plane that crashed on Sunday first flew in 1988, and it was used by the United States Air Force until it was sold to the Philippines in January, according to the Philippine Air Force and a website that tracks C-130s worldwide.
The Philippine military has been trying to modernize its aging fleet. Last month, a newly acquired Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a night training flight, killing six people onboard.
More details later to discover the cause of the crash.