Plane crash in Parañaque slum kills 14, injures eight people
Manila—What was supposed to be a quiet afternoon in a Parañaque City neighborhood turned into a deadly conflagration.
A light cargo plane that had just taken off from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport crashed into a densely populated area and burst into flames.
The fire razed over a hundred shanties and killed at least 14 people, including the pilot, his co-pilot and a lone passenger, officials said.
According to airport authorities, the Queen Air-type aircraft with registry number RP-C824 and owned by Innovators Technology Inc. took off from Runway 13-31 at 2:11 p.m. bound for San Jose, Mindoro, where it was to pick up a cargo of seafood.
Shortly afterward, however, the pilot, identified as Capt. Timothy Albo, encountered problems and radioed for emergency landing status.
He attempted to turn the plane around to head back to the airport but did not make it.
A police officer identified the plane’s co-pilot Jessie Kim Lustica and the passenger as Julius Dorado.
’Looked like an exhibition’
Latest information from the Manila International Airport Authority, citing reports from the Philippine National Red Cross, said 14 people were dead and at least eight others injured.
The disabled aircraft spiraled down onto the edge of a vacant lot adjacent to a row of shanties along the F. Serrano creekside on Taiwan Street inside the Better Living Subdivision at Doña Soledad Extension, barangay Don Bosco.
“Akala ko nag-exhibition lang yong eroplano (I thought the plane was doing an exhibition),” said Jimboy Valenzuela, a resident of the area.
“Pagewang-gewang yung andar nya, tapos nagulat ako, biglang bumagsak (Its movement was unstable, then suddenly it fell),” he added.
He said the plane crashed into an area where a lot of people had gathered.
“There were children playing, women doing laundry and men having a drinking session,” Valenzuela said, He added that was how people usually spent their weekends.
As soon as the plane crashed, a loud explosion was heard and fire quickly engulfed the houses.
Like a toy plane
The fire also damaged the F. Serrano Elementary School adjacent to the shantytown.
“Good thing it was a Saturday. Imagine what a bigger tragedy it would have been had it been a weekday and children were in school,” Valenzuela said in Filipino.
“Umikut-ikot yung eroplano bago bumagsak (The plane was spinning before it hit the ground),” Jerry delos Santos, another witness, added.
“It looked like a remote-controlled toy plane from afar.”
Junjie Rodriguez claimed one of the victims included his sister Maricel Garado, who was out looking for her child when the plane came down.
“Nabagsakan siya ng eroplano kasi nagpunta siya sa area para hanapin yung anak nya. Ang dami-daming babagsakan, dito pa (The plane fell on her because she went to the area to look for her child. Of so many places, it had to fall here),” he said, tears falling from his eyes.
Burnt debris from the aircraft was scattered all over.
Not a school day
Another resident, Jaycee Manlangit, said he saw a mother and her child in a tight embrace.
But he said he was unsure if those were the bodies of Maricel and her child because the bodies were charred beyond recognition.
Parañaque Mayor Florencio Bernabe Jr., who was at the site, said the ball of fire caused by the plane crash quickly spread across a creek and into the three-story F. Serrano Elementary school.
Bernabe added that more than a hundred squatter shanties along the creek also burned down as a result of the crash.
He immediately ordered that the affected residents be housed temporarily at the Annex 35 covered court, also in barangay Don Bosco.
At the same time, Bernabe ordered the construction of makeshift classrooms to house the affected students of the gutted school.
“Thank God it was not a school day. If this happened on a school day, a lot of children could have possibly been affected,” he said.
Several people—about 20 said one police officer— were rushed to nearby hospitals with burns.
The fire brought out more than 40 fire trucks from all over Metro Manila.
A helicopter was seen helping put out the fire by dumping seawater on it.
Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director General Ramon Gutierrez dispatched an investigation team to the site to determine the cause of the crash.
He said it was difficult at this time to speculate on what caused the crash.
Authorities have yet to identify most of the fatalities.
As of 6:30 p.m. their bodies were still at the crash site with members of the Philippine National Police’s Scene of the Crime Operatives and other investigators searching the area for clues to the accident.
Wilma Manzanares, another resident, said she was sweeping dirt in front of her house when the plane suddenly crashed.
“Pagbagsak, sumabog tapos umusok ng makapal, sumunod na yung apoy. Inisip ko yung mga anak ko kasi naglalaro sila kanina dun; buti na lang wala na sila dun (After it crashed it exploded, then there was thick smoke followed by the flames. I thought of my children who were playing nearby and it was a good thing they were not right on the spot),” she said, still shaking.
Manzanares said she was thankful for escaping unscathed. Her shanty was among those spared by the fire.
But another resident, Monico Abreu, 76, lamented that the crash not only injured one of his children but also affected his source of livelihood.
He had a piggery in the area and all his pigs were roasted in the blaze.
Insp. Wilson Tana of the Parañaque Fire Department said damage to property was estimated at P6 million. Inquirer
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