Authorities in the Philippines have retrieved both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder – commonly referred to as a plane’s ‘black box’ – from the Philippine Air Force C-130 that crashed in the southern islands earlier this week.
The death toll has now risen to at least 53 casualties, including the pilots of the aircraft, who are said to have had several years of flying experience at the time of the crash.
Investigators will collate the data of the CVR and FDR with eyewitness accounts from those who survived the crash, in order to uncover the possible cause of the incident.
Earlier, military spokesman Edgard Arevalo said the plane involved in the incident was in “very good condition” and had 11,000 flying hours remaining before its next scheduled maintenance was due.
“We are determined to find out what really transpired in this very tragic incident, because according to available information the aircraft followed the specified protocols,” he said.
Philippine Air Force General Cirilito Sobejana said that despite earlier eyewitness accounts, he does not believe that anyone jumped from the aircraft before it crashed.
“I spoke to the survivors and they said the plane bounced two to three times and zig-zagged. The pilot tried to regain power because he wanted to lift the plane but it was too late. The right wing hit a tree,” he said.
Gen Sobejana added that the impact of hitting trees resulted in part of the front of the aircraft being sliced open, and that some soldiers onboard used this opening to escape after the impact, which could have confused witnesses.
Other soldiers were unconscious onboard when the plane ultimately caught alight shortly after impact.
At least 46 people involved in the accident are currently still being treated for their injuries, as the death toll rose to 53 overnight. At least three civilians, who were on the ground at the time of the crash, were among those killed.
Some witnesses now claim the aircraft crashed into a number of homes near the Jolo Airport before it caught alight.
The C-130 Hercules transport aircraft was flying from Laguindingan to Jolo carrying 96 people in total, most of whom were military personnel, when it overshot the runway at Jolo Airport in the province of Sulu on Sunday.
According to authorities, the aircraft, registration 5125, failed to touch down, and struggled to regain enough power and height before it crashed into trees and caught on fire at nearby Patikul.