AFP chief: Identifying crash victims tough as some beyond recognition
MANILA, Philippines—The identification of fatalities in the C-130 crash in Sulu is taking time because many of those who died were beyond recognition, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.
“Some of those who died are really beyond recognition,” Sobejana said in an interview with Teleradyo. “Their bodies were badly burned,” he said.
Only seven of the dead soldiers have been identified so far, he said.
One of the wounded soldiers, who had initially survived the crash, had died because of injuries, Sobejana told reporters in a separate interview.
This brought the overall death toll to 53—50 of the 96 passengers on board the C-130 plane and three local residents.
Dozens were being treated in various hospitals.
Sobejana said the soldier who died had been confined at West Metro Medical Center in Zamboanga City.
“Late last night, he died and the cause of this is the chemical burns he suffered in the face or he might have inhaled smoke which could have aggravated his medical condition,” Sobejana told reporters.
Among those who died was the pilot in command, who had more than 3,000 hours of flying the C-130.
He also expressed gratitude to residents in Patikul who rushed to help the soldiers immediately after the plane crashed and burst into flames.
“We are very thankful to the locals because they immediately responded,” said Sobejana. “Actually they took the risk of going into the crash site and had they not pulled them, for sure the soldiers inside would have burned,” he said in Filipino.
The Lockheed C-130 transport aircraft was bound for Sulu to bring Army recruits to help fight Abu Sayyaf, a homegrown terror group with ties to Islamic State which found a stronghold in the province.
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