TACLOBAN CITY, Jan. 18 (PNA) -- Strong winds and floodwater at the Tacloban City airport caused the airplane carrying Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and company to plunge into the grassy area of the airport’s runway at about 1:00 p.m. Saturday.
The PNA learned this on Sunday morning from Air Force Maj. Glen Cabalquinto,spokesman of Philippine Air Force 1st Air Division, who said that strong winds brought by tropical storm "Amang" triggered the nosedive of the aircraft, set to fly back to Manila on Saturday afternoon shortly after the plane carrying Pope Francis and his entourage took off.
The plane skidded right in front of the Tactical Operations Group 8-Philippine Air Force headquarters.
“The plane nosedived at the grassy area heading south in front of PAF's TOG8 building as it was pummeled by strong winds brought by Amang. The airplane was about to take off when it was suddenly hit by strong winds,” Cabalquinto said.
The airplane was also carrying Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista and Undersecretary Felizardo Serapio, eight staff members and three crewmen.
The officials went to Tacloban City to ensure that the visit of Pope Francis in the province was safe and sound.
Before the incident, the plane, according to Senior Supt. Romulo Esteban, Bicol police deputy director for operations and task force commander of Papal Visit in Tacloban stationed at the airport, said that prior to the incident the plane was also about to overshot the runway upon landing.
Esteban, who witnessed the incident, said the plane was taxiing on the runway and about to take off but it slowed down while passing through the aerodrome with flood water, suddenly crisscrossed and settled at the grassy area along the airport’s runway.
"The plane’s tire blew because it produced a smoke. We went to the area immediately to safeguard the passengers. Shortly after, other rescuers arrived to assist the plane passengers,” he said.(PNA) CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/