Seven Soldiers Dead in Philippine Helicopter Crash

Froilan Gallardo
Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
2021-01-16
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Seven Soldiers Dead in Philippine Helicopter Crash A helicopter flies out of a military camp near Marawi, Philippines as troops battle Islamist militants in the southern city, May 25, 2017.
AFP

A Philippine Air Force helicopter crashed Saturday while resupplying troops fighting communist rebels in the southern province of Bukidnon, killing a colonel and six other troops, the military announced.

The helicopter, a Vietnam War-era Huey UH-1H, was ferrying supplies, along with another Huey chopper, to a forward military base in the remote Pantaron Mountain Range when the accident occurred, said Maj. Gen. Andres Centeno.

“The pilots of the other Huey radioed the ill-fated aircraft that they were trailing smoke,” Centeno said.

Centeno said soldiers who reached the crash site, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) east of Impasug-ong town in Bukidnon province, “found no survivors.”

He said they were withholding the names of crash victims, including an Air Force colonel, three crew members and three Army soldiers, pending notification of their kin.

He said the other Huey helicopter spotted smoke trailing from the engine of the ill-fated aircraft minutes before it crashed.

“The pilots of the other Huey radioed the ill-fated aircraft that they were trailing smoke,” Centeno said. “The pilots managed to steer the damaged aircraft and crashed into an open field.”

Centeno said the helicopter nosed-dived when it was executing a turn, and fell to the ground.

The two helicopters were flying supplies from the Army 403rd Infantry Brigade in Malaybalay City to a forward military base in the Pantaron Mountain Range.

He said the accident happened during its third ferry mission on Saturday afternoon.

The 4th Infantry Division said it established the forward operating base in the hinterlands as part of its mission to crush the communist New People’s Army (NPA), which has been waging one of the region’s longest rebellions, beginning in 1969.

This was the second time a Huey helicopter figured in an accident while supporting combat operations. In November, a soldier died when a Huey crashed in the town of Madalum in Lanao del Sur province while transporting soldiers wounded in a firefight with Islamic militants.

The same day, another Huey helicopter developed engine trouble while supporting the downed aircraft.

Jeoffrey Maitem in Cotabato City, southern Philippines contributed to this report.

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