A soldier who was gravely injured about two weeks ago when a Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 cargo jet crashed in Patikul, Sulu, succumbed to his injuries on Friday, July 16, 2021.
The latest casualty was Private Jesfel Mequiabas, a member of the Philippine Army (PA) and a Misamis Oriental native. Mequiabas died about 2:30 AM at an unnamed hospital, according to Capt. Jonathan Zata, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office (PAO).
“The AFP has reached out to his loved ones and his remains are being prepared to be transported to their hometown,” Zata said.
The number of those killed in the horrific accident has risen to 53. Fifty (50) military troops and three civilians were among those killed. Twenty-nine (29) military men had already been recognized, while the bodies of 21 additional soldiers were still being processed in funeral homes, the majority of whom had been charred beyond recognition.
“The other cadavers [are] still undergoing the tedious process of identification to ensure that they are reunited to their families as soon as possible,” Zata said.
Meanwhile, fifty more people, including 46 troops, were injured and are recovering in hospitals around Zamboanga City and Sulu.
Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the PAF’s Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft with tail number 5125 to crash in Patikul town on July 4th.
The plane was carrying 96 military soldiers, the most of them were Army privates, including Mequiabas, who had recently completed their training and were on their first deployment to undertake counter-terrorism operations in Sulu, a notorious hideout for the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).