Forty-five people were killed when a military plane crashed in the Philippines Sunday afternoon.
Forty-two of the victims were members of the army and three were civilians who were killed on the ground when the plane crashed around noon outside Jolo airport in the southern Sulu province.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, but officials citing witnesses said the plane with 96 people on board missed the runway at the airport. The Jolo runway is shorter than others in the Philippines, making it harder to adjust if a pilot misses the landing, an air force official told the Associated Press.
Forty-nine soldiers were rescued from the wreckage, many of them having jumped from the plane before it exploded shortly after the crash.
"This is a sad day, but we have to remain hopeful," Major General William Gonzales, commander of the Joint Task Force-Sulu, said in a statement. "We enjoin the nation to pray for those who are injured and those who have perished in this tragedy."
The Lockheed C-130 was one of two former U.S. Air Force aircraft given to the Philippines this year. It was carrying 88 soldiers, many of whom had recently completed basic training. Three pilots and five crew were also on board.
The troops were traveling from the southern Cagayan de Oro city to Sulu to fight Abu Sayyaf militants in the predominantly Muslim province, according to Sulu’s military commander.
“They were supposed to join us in our fight against terrorism,” Gonzales said, according to the Associated Press.
The United States offered condolences to the victims, with national security adviser Jake Sullivan saying in a statement Sunday that Washington is “ready to provide all appropriate support to the Philippines’ response effort.”
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.