An Air Force ambulance chopper that was on its way to pick up a bombing victim in Jolo, Sulu, crashed in Basilan province due to bad weather, killing its female pilot, a male co-pilot, and two male flight crew members.
The S76 Sikorsky helicopter crashed at Upper Manggas village in Lantawan town past 1 p.m. on Wednesday, September 16.
According to Maj. Al-Nasser Abdurakman, information officer of the Edwin Andrews Air Base confirmed that all four passengers died in the crash.
“All the bodies have been recovered. As of now, we don’t have concrete details as to the cause of the accident,” Abdurakman said.
The S76 is a military ambulance helicopter used in search and rescue operations and other humanitarian missions.
Abdurakman said the chopper left the airbase around 12:33 p.m. and were expected to land at the Western Mindanao Command helipad when they got back.
Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman said residents saw a helicopter hovering over Isabela City at a very low altitude before the crash.
Basilan chopper crash update
Salliman said the chopper could have been battered by strong winds and crashed in the town of Lantawan.
“Later, we learned the helicopter had a crash landing,” Salliman added.
Col. Domingo Gobway, commander of Joint Task Force Basilan, told the INQUIRER that “the helicopter burned after the crash and the recovered bodies of the crew members were charred beyond recognition.”
He added the said ambulance helicopter, with tail No. 202, belonged to the PAF’s 505th Search and Rescue Group.
In July, the Armed Forces of the Philippines also lost four members Air Force after their helicopter crashed and exploded in Cauayan City, Isabela province.
According to Brig. Gen. Crizaldo Nieves, Cagayan Valley regional police chief, the Huey helicopter of the Philippine Air Force’s 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, was carrying five passengers.
Authorities said the crew treated at the hospital managed to jump out of the helicopter before it crashed. He sustained multiple injuries was brought to Isabela United Doctors Medical Center.
Reports said the chopper’s landing went well, but when it took off, there was zero visibility due to clouds of dust, and it hit electric wires, causing it to crash.