Debris of Philippine aircraft found

Officials suspect the C-130 crashed but have not ruled out a separatist attack.

    Air force officials said the aircraft could have come under attack [EPA]

    Major Gerardo Zamudio, a spokesman for the Philippine air force, said: "We have received reports from our tactical operations group in Davao that they have found debris near one village."

    The aircraft was bound for the central city of Iloilo to pick up members of the Philippine president's security team and return them to Manila when it went missing.

    The weather was reported clear at the time of the incident.

    Search and rescue teams backed by military helicopters were despatched to cover a 30km radius of the airport.

    Joel Parojinog, a Davao police investigator, said residents from a coastal village reported recovering two combat boots, human body parts, and some documents, including a C-130 manual.

    But there is yet to be confirmation on whether the debris is from the 41-year-old Lockheed Martin aircraft which lost contact with air traffic control minutes after take-off.

    'Possible sabotage'

    The air force said it has not discounted the possibility that the C-130 was attacked or sabotaged by separatist groups battling government troops on the island.

    Central and western parts of Mindanao have been the scene of intense fighting between government troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in recent weeks.

    Zamudio, an air force spokesman, said the incident could affect the unit's ability to transport troops and equipment.

    He added that three of the unit's five transport planes were grounded for maintenance.

    Lieutenant-General Pedrito Cadungog, the Philippine air force chief, said witnesses reported hearing a loud explosion shortly after the aircraft took off.

    He said he found the incident "very puzzling" because it was highly unusual for such a large aircraft to disappear without leaving any trace.

    Cadungog said there were no reports of maintenance problems with the C-130, adding that US forces have been asked to help in the search.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.