7 troopers die in Bukidnon chopper crash
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Misamis Oriental, Philippines — A Bell utility helicopter of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) crashed on a rice field in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon province, around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, killing all seven people aboard.
Maj. Gen. Andres Centino, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the ill-fated Bell UH-1H “Huey,” with tail number 517, was one of two choppers on a mission to resupply a unit of the 403rd Infantry Brigade stationed in a mountain forward base in Impasugong town, 64 kilometers from Malaybalay.
The two choppers had already completed two runs to Impasugong and took off from their Malaybalay base around 1:50 p.m. for their third run when the pilot of the helicopter in the rear saw smoke coming from the forward chopper as they were passing over Barangay Busdi.
The pilot of the forward chopper, identified by an Inquirer source as Lt. Col. Arnie Arroyo, with a certain 2nd Lt. Caabay as copilot, informed the other aircraft that they would be turning back. But “the chopper nosedived” as it turned, Centino said.
“The pilot made sure they would not crash-land on a group of houses, hence they ended up in the ricefield,” he added.
Troops were immediately dispatched to Busdi village, some 25 km from the center of Malaybalay City, to secure the crash site and extricate the soldiers, Centino said.
Four of those aboard were PAF personnel while three were members of the Army from the brigade camp in Malaybalay City.
—With a report from Joselle R. Badilla
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