17 dead and 40 rescued after the crash of a Philippine military plane

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MANILA, Philippines – A Philippine Air Force C-130 plane carrying troops crashed in a southern province after missing the runway on Sunday, killing at least 17 military personnel while at least 40 were rescued from the burning wreckage, officials said.

Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana said rescue efforts are under way. He said the plane had 92 people on board, including three pilots and five crew members. The rest were army personnel.

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules was one of two ex-Americans. Air Force aircraft were handed over to the Philippines this year as part of military aid. It crashed when landing on Sunday just before noon in the village of Bangkal in the mountain town of Patikul in Sulu province, said Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana.

The plane was carrying troops from the southern city of Cagayan de Oro, Sobejana said. Government troops have been fighting the Abu Sayyaf militants in the predominantly Muslim province of Sulu for decades. The cause of the crash was initially not clear.

“It is very unfortunate,” Sobejana told reporters. “The plane missed the runway and tried to regain power, but failed and crashed.”

Sobejana said at least 40 people on board were taken to hospital and troops tried to rescue the rest.

It rained in the central Philippines, but it was not immediately clear whether the weather in the Sulu region was affected. The airport in Sulu’s capital, Jolo, is just a few kilometers from a mountainous area where troops fought against Abu Sayyaf. Some militants have joined the Islamic State group.

The United States and the Philippines have separately blacklisted Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for bomb attacks, ransom kidnappings and beheadings. It has been severely weakened by years of government offensives, but remains a threat.

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