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Private plane carrying government officials skids off Tacloban runway

Video by Marc Jayson Cayabyab, INQUIRER.net

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TACLOBAN CITY–A Global Express private plane carrying Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma and other government officials skidded off the runway of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport Saturday afternoon.

The incident happened barely an hour after the plane carrying Pope Francis took off. The government officials attended the papal mass held near the airport Saturday morning. Pope Francis was in Leyte to visit the survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

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An official statement from Malacañang said Ochoa, Coloma, Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista, Undersecretary Felizardo Serapio Jr. and eight staff members and three crew members were in the plane when it skidded off the runway.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in the statement that strong winds forced the plane to overshoot the runway. Leyte is placed under Signal No. 2 as Tropical Storm “Amang” approaches the Visayas area.

“All 15 passengers and crew members are all safe and suffered no injuries. The families of those on board have also been assured that their loved ones are safe,” Lacierda said.

The officials in the plane were with the Pope to ensure that the schedule is followed.

Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who came to the airport after the incident, said there was an explosion near the tire before it skidded along the runway, based on eyewitness accounts.

“From eye witness accounts, the Global Express was about to take off when there was an explosion on the tires which caused the airway to veer to the left and they ended up off to the side,” Representative Romualdez said.

Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez, meanwhile, said the light plane may have skidded due to the strong winds brought about by Amang.

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Coloma and Ochoa were seen casually walking out of an ambulance after the incident in a video taken by witness Warpeace Arnold and shown to INQUIRER.net.

Philippine National Police Region 8 Director Asher Dolina said the pilot tried to abort the take-off but the plane then skidded off the runway.

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