AFP rules out foul play in Sulu plane crash

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Troops secure the personal belongings of the casualties from the C-130 plane that crashed in Patikul, Sulu on Sunday, July 5, 2021.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 5) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines ruled out foul play in the plane crash that killed 50 in Patikul, Sulu over the weekend.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Monday, AFP Spokesperson Major Gen. Edgard Arevalo said it is unlikely that the Air Force C-130, which carried 90 passengers, was attacked before crashing in Barangay Bangkal on Sunday.

READ: Military ends rescue and retrieval ops with 52 dead in C-130 plane crash in Sulu

"At the moment, looking at the circumstances we have at hand, the information that we know, we are ruling out any foul play. I have been asked previously if the aircraft could have been attacked. Based from the circumstances and the information at hand, these are not among the possible reasons why this accident happened," Arevalo said.

Arevalo reasoned that prior to the crash, the aircraft still had 11,000 hours of flying time before undergoing maintenance. He also insisted on the airworthiness of the plane, which he said was ran by "seasoned" and "rated" pilots.

Initial reports stated that the plane overshot the runway of the Jolo airport and "skidded" to a nearby town. In the latest advisory, Western Mindanao Command chief Lt Gen Corleto Vinluan said 47 military personnel and three civilians were killed, while 49 soldiers and four civilians were being treated for injuries.

"When it hit the runway at the right speed, at the right time, at the right spot, it had to be a hard landing because of the relative shortness of the runway," Arevalo said.

"But even if it's a short runway, a C-130 is capable of handling such length of a runway. This is not the first time the C-130 landed in this airport, we have not experienced problems in the past," he added.

He noted in a separate briefing that they are also still looking at other possible angles such the weather, human error, and overcapacity.

Authorities are still searching for the "black box", or the flight data recorder of the plane, to determine the cause of the fatal incident, Arevalo said.

Flags will be raised at half-staff in different military camps to honor the fallen soldiers. The bereaved families will also be assisted for their needs, he added.