Philippine Commuter Plane Crashes Into House, 25 Dead
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A twin-engine commuter plane spun out of control after takeoff and crashed into a house near Manila airport today, killing all 21 people aboard and a family of four on the ground, authorities said.
Investigators said initial findings showed that the right engine of the Beechcraft King aircraft failed, and that the plane never gained more than 400 feet altitude before plunging into the bedroom of the house in the middle- class Manila suburb of Paranaque, about a half a mile south of the airport.
The dead included a Japanese man, his Filipino wife, and their two daughters, who were asleep in their bedroom at the time of the crash, witnesses and officials said.
The crash occurred one week after a Philippine Airlines Boeing 737 with 119 people aboard exploded and caught fire while waiting to take off from the domestic airport on a flight to the central Philippine city of Iloilo. Eight people were killed but the cause of the incident has not been determined.
The propeller-driven aircraft, owned by the Aerolift Corp., took off about 6:25 a.m. today for Surigao, 450 miles south of Manila, officials said. Moments later, the pilot radioed he was returning to the Manila domestic airport.
″When I noticed he could not gain altitude, I immediately advised the fire station,″ said air controller Francisco Reyes. ″I said, ’Get out there immediately because the plane is going to crash.‴
Following the crash, Transport Secretary Oscar Orbos ordered Aerolift’s five aircraft grounded until they can be checked.
Aerolift spokesman Benjie Torres said the plane carried 19 passengers and two crew members. Passengers included Gloria Rescurrection, mayor of the town of Pilar in Surigao del Norte province.
Witnesses said the aircraft lost altitude, spun wildly and nose-dived into the home of Yasukazu Suzuki, 47, originally of Yokohama, Japan. The plane exploded in flames.
Paranaque residents began moving clothes and other belongings outside their homes for fear the fire would spread, but it was contained. Witnesses said debris and parts of charred bodies were scattered in the area. Within hours, rescuers recovered the family’s bodies and those of the 21 aboard the plane.
Marilyn Molobuco, 19, a maid at the Japanese home, said she heard a loud explosion and rushed to her employers’ bedroom to awaken them.
″I did not know that a plane crashed,″ she said. ″I tried to wake up my employers but when I saw that fire was coming out from under the door, I ran.″
Arlene Rebong, a neighbor, said she was having breakfast nearby when she noticed an aircraft flying very low. ″From the way it sounded, there seemed to be something wrong,″ she said. ″In a split second it crashed. There was a loud explosion and a ball of fire.″
Raymond Lebunao, 14, who worked in the house as an errand boy, said the plane slammed into the couple’s bedroom, where they were sleeping with their children. ″I was inside the house,″ he said. ″I saw the plane coming down. I ran. It was spinning out of control, then it crashed and burst into flames.″