7 soldiers die as Air Force chopper crashes in Bukidnon
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—A UH-1 “Huey” chopper of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) crashed in a rice field in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon at around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, killing all seven aboard.
According to Maj. Gen. Andres Centino, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, the chopper, with tail number 517, was on a resupply mission, together with another, to a unit of the 403rd Infantry Brigade stationed in a mountain forward base in nearby Impasugong town.
Centino said the two choppers left off from Cagayan de Oro City around 7 a.m. on Saturday for Malaybalay City where the mission to bring supplies to the Impasugong unit emanates.
Both choppers successfully performed two resupply runs. They took off from Malaybalay City at around 1:50 p.m. for their third run.
While hovering above Busdi village, according to Centino, the pilot of the chopper on the rear advised the forward chopper that they observed smoke from their engine.
The forward chopper’s pilot then advised that they are turning back. But as it maneuvered, “the chopper nosedived,” said Centino.
“The pilot made sure they would not crash land on a group of houses hence they ended up in the rice field,” Centino added.
An Inquirer source said the chopper was piloted by Lt. Col. Arnie Arroyo and a certain 2nd Lt. Caabay.
Soldiers were immediately deployed to Busdi village, some 25 kilometers from Malaybalay City and easily accessible through Impasugong town, to secure the crash site and extricate the soldiers, said Centino.
Four of those aboard were PAF personnel while three are Army personnel of the brigade camp in Malaybalay City. (with reports from Joselle R. Badilla)
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