World

Small plane explosion kills 8 in Philippines, including 1 Canadian

A medical evacuation plane exploded in a ball of flames during takeoff on Sunday in the Philippine capital, killing all eight passengers and crew on board, officials said. One of them was a Canadian.

Eight passengers and crew were aboard medevac flight at airport in Manila

Debris of the medical evacuation plane that exploded during takeoff is seen on the runway of Manila International Airport in Pasay City, Philippines, on Sunday. Eight people were on board. (Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)

A medical evacuation plane exploded in a ball of flames during takeoff on Sunday in the Philippine capital, killing all eight passengers and crew on board, officials said.

The plane, which was carrying six Filipino crew members, an American and a Canadian, was bound for Japan on a medical mission when it caught fire near the end of the main runway, Manila airport general manager Ed Monreal said.

Firetrucks and rescue personnel rushed and doused the aircraft with foam to try to extinguish the flames, he said.

"Unfortunately, there were no survivors," Monreal told a late-night news conference.

He declined to identify the victims until their families were informed and said other details about the flight and the passengers were unclear.

WATCH | Amateur video from the scene of the crash:

Amateur video shows plumes of smoke rising from the wreckage after a plane explosion in Manila late Sunday. One Canadian is among the victims. Video credit: Jhun Gil Siriban Aguhob. 0:48

Global Affairs Canada said the federal government is offering the Canadian's family its consular services.

"Our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of the Canadian who died in a plane crash in the Philippines," said spokesperson Anabel Lindblad

"We offer them our deepest condolences."

The plane, owned by a Philippines-registered charter service Lionair, had been bound for Haneda, Japan, but burst into flames at the end of the runway around 8 p.m. local time, Manila's main airport said.

Indonesian carrier Lion Air issued a statement making clear that it is unrelated to Manila-based Lionair.

Nearly three hours after the accident, the bodies of the victims were still inside the wreckage. Airport authorities were waiting for police investigators to examine the crash scene before retrieving the remains, Monreal said.

The airport's main runway was closed due to the accident. The airport had only minimal staff due to air travel restrictions that are part of a month-long lockdown imposed by the government in the main northern Philippine region of Luzon, where Manila, the capital, lies, to fight the coronavirus outbreak, officials said.

Debris of the crashed plane seen at Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, on Sunday. (Manila International Airport Authority Media Affairs Division/Handout via Reuters)

A Korean Airlines flight bound for Manila was diverted to Clark International Airport, north of Manila, due to the incident, Monreal said, adding that the main runway would be reopened as soon as the wreckage was removed.

Donaldo Mendoza, the deputy chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said the aircraft was deemed "airworthy" based on records and its pilots were properly certified to fly.

The plane had flown to central Iloilo province Saturday to deliver medical supplies without any incident, Mendoza said.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said the aircraft apparently encountered an unspecified "problem which resulted in a fire" as it rolled to takeoff, adding its chief investigator was on the way to the scene.

Video footage shows the aircraft engulfed in bright-orange flames in the darkness as firefighters scramble to put out the fire by spraying chemical foam while sirens blare.

An investigation by the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines was underway, MIAA said.

Mendoza said airport tower personnel were horrified to see the plane still rolling on the runway at a point when it should have already taken off, but added it remains unclear what trouble the plane encountered.

"They were really alarmed so they already picked up the hotline just in case, whatever happens, they can immediately call Fire, Crash and Rescue," Mendoza said.

with files from Reuters and The Canadian Press

now