4 dead as Air Force chopper crashes in Basilan

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    A SIKORSKY helicopter of the Air Force crashed in Lantawan town in Basilan yesterday afternoon, leaving two pilots and two crewmembers dead.

    Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Aristides Galang withheld the identities of the fatalities, who are assigned with the PAF’s 505th Search and Rescue Group, pending the notification of their family.

    Galang said the S76A Sikorsky helicopter, coming from Zamboanga City for a medical evacuation mission, crashed in Barangay Manggas at around 1:30 a.m. while en route to Jolo town in Sulu.

    Galang said the aircraft was supposed to transport to Zamboanga City some personnel who were wounded during the August 24 suicide bombings in Jolo. The wounded personnel initially underwent treatment in Sulu.

    The twin blasts, masterminded by Abu SAyyaf sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan, left 17 people dead, including the female suicide bombers. Seventy-four soldiers, civilians and policemen were injured in the explosions.

    “While proceeding to the area (Sulu), they figured in the mishap. They are performing a mission so others may live. It so happened they figured in the mishap so it’s really unfortunate,” said Galang.

    Galang said investigators are conducting a probe to determine what caused the crash.