Small plane crashes outside Philippine capital, killing at least 10 people

Piper Apache light aircraft plunged into a house, killing five people who lived there and everyone on the plane

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2018, 5:27pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2018, 9:44pm

Ten people died when a small plane crashed into a house north of the Philippine capital on Saturday, aviation and police officials said.

The Piper 23 Apache twin-engined aircraft, operated by Lite Air Express, took off from the airport in Plaridel town in Bulacan province, said Eric Apolonio, spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The six-seater aircraft was carrying five people – not six as earlier reported – and was en route to Laoag in northwestern Luzon.

The crash happened at about 11am on Saturday.

The plane crashed into the house of an 80-year-old woman, who was inside at the time, police spokesman Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao said in a text message.

The woman’s daughter and three grandchildren were also killed, according to Plaridel police chief superintendent Julio Lizardo.

“We had to dig through the rubble to find the bodies,” he said, explaining why the toll rose.

The crash ignited a fire in a house that was hit by the aircraft, he said, and the other bodies were not found until the blaze was extinguished.

Television footage showed parts of the plane wreckage and the shattered walls of the house at the still-smouldering crash site.

Two other people on the ground were injured by burning debris, Lizardo said.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

The weather at the time was said to be sunny and clear.

Witnesses said the plane hit a tree and one of the wings slammed into a 12-metre-high electricity pole before crashing into the house and exploding into flames.

“Investigation revealed that the said aircraft took off at the runway of Plaridel Airport but unluckily crashed at the residential area,” Bulalacao said. “The house was burned while the aircraft was totally wrecked. All seven victims died on the spot.”

Apolonio said all the aircraft operated by the transport and courier company Lite Air Express were grounded while investigators tried to determine the cause of the crash, he said.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Reuters