MANILA — Malacañang on Monday extended sympathies to the families of all eight victims who died after a plane burst into flames while attempting to take off at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Sunday night.
“We are so sad to learn that a plane crashed last night taking the lives of the eight persons on board,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
He said there must be a “thorough investigation” on the incident involving a Lionair West Wind 24 aircraft bound for Haneda, Japan for a medical evacuation mission.
Concerned government agencies must undertake measures to secure the safety of private aircrafts as well as their passengers and crew, he added.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), in a statement, said the RPC 5880 flight was carrying two passengers and six crew members.
In a tweet, Philippine Red Cross chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, said the passengers were composed of a flight medic, nurse, doctor, three flight crew, a patient, and a companion.
CAAP Deputy Director-General for Operations Captain Donald Mendoza, in a late-night briefing on Sunday, said the plane was in Iloilo on Saturday to deliver medical supplies and safely returned to Manila.
He pointed out that the aircraft was “airworthy” and the pilots’ licenses were “current.”
However, the plane caught fire then exploded as it was taking off on Runway 24.
Immediately after the accident, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) Fire and Rescue team were dispatched to the site to douse the flames with chemical foam.
MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal said there were only seven airlines scheduled to arrive and depart from NAIA on Sunday, thus only one airline was affected in the evening. The runway closure affected a Korean Airlines flight that was diverted to Clark International Airport.
There are 14 flights scheduled to arrive and depart the country’s main gateway on Monday.
Meanwhile, Mendoza said the CAAP is looking to ground Lionair Inc.’s entire fleet since plane accident took place just after a Lionair medevac flight also crashed in Calamba, Laguna last September, which killed nine people.
Investigation of the NAIA plane crash is now ongoing. (PNA)