GENERAL SANTOS CITY — A still unidentified aircraft crashed in a mountainous area near Esperanza town in Sultan Kudarat province before noon on Sunday following a mid-air explosion.
Esperanza Mayor Helen Latog said she has dispatched rescue teams to the upland portions of her town after an aircraft was reported by residents to have crashed near the area at past 11 a.m.
She said the aircraft was specifically witnessed by residents of Sitio Dapulan in Barangay Margues exploding at mid-air and crashed in a mountainous areas.
“They first heard a loud explosion first and then saw a plane going down towards the mountains,” she said in a radio interview.
Latog said they don’t have any confirmation yet as to the identity or the type of the ill-fated aircraft, but sources said it was reportedly private plane with four to six passengers onboard.
The official said she immediately sent their rescue team to locate the aircraft and search for possible survivors.
She said the team is composed of a doctor and five nurses from the municipal health office, rescue personnel from the provincial government of Sultan Kudarat and elements from the Esperanza municipal police station and the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion (IB).
Capt. Mark Soria, commander of the 33IB’s Bravo company, said they initially heard an explosion at around 11:15 a.m. from their base in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.
He said they later found out that it involved a plane that crashed in the mountainous areas of Esperanza town.
Soria, who is part of the rescue team dispatched by the local government, said they are still trying to locate the aircraft’s crash site.
He said it appears that the plane crashed in a mountainous area outside of Esperanza town.
The official said the crashed site could be “somewhere within Senator Ninoy Aquino (town).”
“We’re now proceeding to the area and we expect to reach there in two to three hours,” he told reporters at around 4.p.m.