Eight passengers died after their plane crashed during takeoff and burst into flames on the runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City last night.
The aircraft was a medical evacuation flight bound for Tokyo. The incident happened on Runway 24 at around 8pm, and involved a West Wind 24 plane operated by Lionair Inc., GMA News reports.
Those who perished were six Filipinos, one American, and a Canadian. As of writing, only one fatality has been identified, a young doctor named Cenover Nicandro “Nicko” Bautista, whose death was announced by his sister, singer Ria Bautista, in a Facebook post last night.
The Manila International Airport Authority, which manages NAIA, said in a statement that their rescue team was immediately dispatched to the site “to douse the flames with chemical foam” and the fire was extinguished at 9:02pm, Rappler reports.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Deputy Director Don Mendoza said in a press briefing that the plane was “airworthy” and the pilot’s license was valid, but added that they would consider grounding Lionair’s fleet because this is the second accident involving one of its planes in six months. Last September, a medical evacuation plane operated by the company crashed in Calamba, Laguna, killing all of its nine passengers, according to CNN Philippines.
Authorities did not explain why the medical evacuation flight was taking place, but said that the same plane was used to bring medical equipment to Iloilo on Saturday. The CAAP said an investigation into the accident might take a year.
Meanwhile, Dr. Nicko’s sister Ria said she was devastated by her brother’s death. “All I know is that he fought like a hero and I can only hope that his fight would not be in vain. RIP, Nicko. I love you my brother. I will honor you forever.”
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