MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has committed to providing assistance to the families of the eight victims of the explosion of medical evacuation (medevac) mission plane at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Sunday night.
In a televised public address late Monday night, Duterte condoled with the victims’ families and urged them not to be discouraged after the accident.
“My condolences to the families and I assure you na tutulong kami sa anumang paraan (we will help in any way we can). Do not be discouraged,” he said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in an earlier statement, also extended sympathies to the victims’ families.
“We are so sad to learn that a plane crashed last night taking the lives of the eight persons on board,” he said.
He called for a “thorough investigation” on the incident, reminding concerned government agencies to undertake measures to secure the safety of private aircraft, passengers, and crew.
Airport authorities said the Haneda-bound Lionair Westwind 24 aircraft caught fire while taking off and exploded at the NAIA runway, killing all eight people on board.
The aircraft was reportedly deemed “airworthy” and the pilots’ licenses were “current”, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Deputy Director-General for Operations Captain Donald Mendoza said.
The victims were identified as Captain Ren Edward Nevada, Captain Melvin Bruel de Castro, Captain Mario Medina, Jael Edmark Agravante, Dr. Cenover Nicarono Bautista, Tomelda Conrado, John Richard Hurst, and Marilyn Vergara de Jesus.
To date, the plane’s black box has been recovered. A black box helps investigators determine what happened in an airplane accident.
Mendoza earlier said the plane was in Iloilo on Saturday to deliver medical supplies and safely returned to Manila.
All aircraft operated by Lionair are now grounded, CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio said.
The recent plane explosion took place just after a Lionair medevac flight also crashed in Calamba, Laguna last September, which killed nine people. (PNA)