Plane crashes onto Philippine slum, killing 13Manila - A four-seater cargo plane crashed onto a crowded Philippine slum on Saturday, sparking a fire that killed 13 people and left five missing and at least another 20 injured, officials said.
The crash and the resulting blaze killed both the pilot, co-pilot, and their lone passenger while the other fatalities are thought to be residents of the shanty town, said chief inspector Wilson Tana, a fire investigator.
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"The fire department got here quickly, but we had trouble because the passageways are so narrow," he told AFP.
"There might be more bodies," he added as firefighters cleared away blackened sheets of corrugated iron in search of bodies that might have been pinned underneath.
At least five other residents of the burnt shanties are missing, Tana said.
However, investigators had not brought search lights and the search effectively stopped as night fell among the twisted wreckage of burnt slum homes, an AFP reporter saw.
An AFP photographer on the scene said the fire gutted a 2,000-square-metre (half-acre) section of the slum that stood either side of an open sewer.
The blaze also engulfed a nearby elementary school, but it was empty at the time because it was a weekend, Philippine National Red Cross secretary-general Gwendolyn Pang told AFP.
"I thought it would crash on me," said resident Randy Molina, recounting the stricken plane's final moments as it tried to return to nearby Manila airport after detecting unspecified trouble shortly after take-off.
"My sister-in-law embraced her son when she heard the explosion. Then she broke the window glass and jumped out," said Molina.
His sister, sister-in-law, and her son were among victims treated for burns at a nearby hospital.
Rogen Rodriguez, a police officer detailed at Manila airport, rushed home to help rescue neighbours from the fire, unaware that his sister, Maricel Garado, was among the dead.
"She had just stepped out of her house to look for her child outside. Part of the wreckage from the exploding plane struck her (the mother) and she was killed," Rodriguez told AFP.
"It (the plane) was already emitting black smoke, and then suddenly it dove and crashed into a house," student Charlene Manlapig told AFP.
Florencio Bernabe, the mayor of Paranaque district where the crash occurred, said that at least 50 shanties burned down and at least 20 other injured victims had been taken to hospital.
Ramon Gutierrez, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, told DZBB radio that the pilot had turned the plane around and attempted an emergency landing shortly after take-off.
"Unfortunately, the plane did not make it," he said, adding that the cause of the crash was not immediately known.
He said the plane, scheduled to pick up cargo from the nearby island of Mindoro, would have been carrying a full tank of fuel when it crashed.
Deadly slum fires are common in the Philippines, where years of unabated migration from rural areas has spawned sprawling shanty towns.
More than 2.5 million people -- nearly a quarter of Manila's population -- now live in slums, according to the government.
Up to 30,000 people lost their homes in successive slum fires in Manila in February, while in January, 12 people, most of them children, were killed when a fire razed an impoverished coastal area.
by Mynardo Macaraig
(c) 2011 AFP
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