Eight people were killed as a Lionair West Wind 24 aircraft caught fire and burst into flames during taking off from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) on Sunday evening, 29 March.
The aircraft is operated by Philippines-registered charter service Lionair (not to be confused with Indonesian carrier Lion Air), was on a medical evacuation mission to Haneda (HND), Japan, carrying two passengers – one male Canadian and one female Filipino holding an American passport – a flight medic, nurse, doctor and three crew members, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said in a statement.
Its not currently known if the passenger was being flown for conditions related to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The aircraft had been making regular cargo runs during the previous week between Japan and the southern Philippine city of Cebu (CEB) and neighbouring areas carrying desperately needed medical supplies as the country scrambles to fight the rising tide of COVID-19 cases.
The accident happened around 20:00 hours local time as the plane was taking off at the end of Runway 24, MIAA said.
MIAA’s Fire and Rescue team were immediately dispatched to the site to douse the flames with chemical foam. The fire was put out by 21:02 hours, according to the Bureau of Fire Protection.
“Unfortunately, no passenger survived the accident,” MIAA said.
Authorities have temporarily closed the runway as investigators from the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board of the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines determine the cause of the incident, the agency added.
A Korean Airlines flight bound for Manila was diverted to Clark International Airport (CRK), north of Manila, due to the incident, with the CAAP saying the main runway would be reopened as soon as the wreckage was removed.
Lionair was also the operator of the Beechcraft King Air 350 aircraft which which crashed in a resort area in Calamba City in Laguna province of the Philippines just last September. That accident killed nine people on board, including the pilot and a copilot, and injuring two people on the ground.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has said it will likely ground the airline until a full investigation has been made.
A video of the aftermath of the crash can be seen here (warning loud volumes at 4:00 seconds into the video).