No survivors found in crashed C-130 in Davao ; sabotage ruled out

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MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 2) No survivors from the C-130 that crashed into the Davao Gulf were found, a Navy official said Wednesday, as search operations were stopped by nightfall.

At the same time, the commander of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) said he was “ruling out” sabotage as the cause of the incident.

But despite saying sabotage was a "remote" possibility, Air Force chief Lieutenant General Pedrito Cadungog said he would still wait for the results of the official investigation of the incident by a PAF fact-finding team.

Search teams from the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard also have not seen the fuselage of the ill-fated aircraft, which, according to sonar, lies on the seabed 600 to 800 feet below the surface, 2.5 nautical miles southwest of Samal Island, Captain Rosauro Gonzales said.

Asked if there were signs of life in the area, Gonzales said: "Sa ngayon, wala kaming nakikita. [As of now, we have not seen any]. Firstly, we have not confirmed the crash site."

Gonzales said there have been no reports of survivors washed ashore in Davao City or Samal Island, between which the C-130 Hercules crashed shortly after taking off from Davao International Airport on Monday evening. The plane was carrying two pilots and seven crewmen.

Local search teams could only dive from 200 or 300 feet, Gonzales said, adding a submarine or a mini-submarine will be needed to inspect or salvage the wreckage.

The human body parts recovered on Wednesday were placed in three black plastic bags, he said.

Strong currents washed the body parts and the debris near the shore, a distance from where the sonar had located the fuselage, he said.

With sabotage ruled out, the possible causes of the crash are pilot failure, material failure, and bad weather, Cadungog said.

"I am ruling it [sabotage] our already," the PAF commander said in a phone interview from Mactan Airbase in Cebu, where he met with the families of the C-130’s crew.

"As far as I am concerned, I can categorically say that it [sabotage] is remote," he added.

Given the tight security at the Davao International Airport, Cadungog said it was unlikely anyone could have sneaked an explosive onto the aircraft.

An eyewitness interviewed on television, who claimed to have seen the crash, did not say that the plane exploded before it plunged into the sea.

The scattered human body parts and debris could be the result of the strong impact as the plane smashed into the sea, and not necessarily due to an explosion, Cadungog said.

The crash leaves only one C-130 in the Air Force's fleet operational, although this was grounded soon after the crash was confirmed.

Three other C-130s are undergoing maintenance.(

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