Update: Authorities confirmed four members of the Philippine Air Force died after their helicopter crashed and exploded in Cauayan City, Isabela province late on Thursday (July 23).
Earlier reports said authorities had recovered two bodies at the crash scene while two more persons were missing. One crew member was rushed to Isabela United Doctors Medical Center.
According to Air Force Lt. Col. Augusto Padua, Tactical Operations Group 2 (TOG2) commander, they would inform the family of the fatalities first before they would release their names.
Bureau of Fire Protection Cauayan City said they recovered two more bodies who were reported missing in the wreckage in addition to the two others who were identified as the pilot and co-pilot of the helicopter, said Fire Chief Insp. Aristotle Atal.
Rescuers recovered the two other bodies in the wreckage around 1 am on Friday.
Atal said the crew who was being 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. The crew was reportedly in critical condition.
“We were not able to immediately draw near the helicopter due to extreme heat of the billowing fire, which took firefighters 30 minutes to extinguish with the help of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Rescue 922 and other agencies,” Atal said.
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.
The PAF said the UH-1D Huey with tail No. 8308 was on a night vision training when it crashed during takeoff at the Tactical Operations Group 2 (TOG2) around 7 p.m., Thursday.
According to FAS, “The most widely used military helicopter, the Bell UH-1 series Iroquois, better known as the “Huey”, began arriving in Vietnam in 1963. Before the end of the conflict, more than 5,000 of these versatile aircraft were introduced into Southeast Asia.”
Last March, the chopper carrying PNP Chief Archie Gamboa crashed in San Pedro Laguna.
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.