Videos and images on Twitter have surfaced involving a private medevac aircraft carrying eight passengers, including an ill patient due for operation, being engulfed in flames after take-off from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, Philippines.
The aircraft was reportedly scheduled to fly to Haneda, Japan, carrying two passengers and six crew members, who unfortunately did not survive the crash.
The crash of the aircraft, registered RP-C5880, occurred at around 8:00PM on the 29th of March, earlier tonight. The Philippine Department of Health reportedly chartered the aircraft to transfer an ill patient, when it overshot Runway 24 and crashed. Immediately following, the aircraft was engulfed in flames and there was no chance of survival for passengers on board.
The MIAA Fire and Rescue team were immediately dispatched to the site following the crash, where they then fought to douse the fire with chemical foam. It is believed that it took over one hour (9:02PM) for the flames to be successfully extinguished. The identity of the passengers (two pilots, one crew, a flight med, a nurse, a doctor, a patient, and a family member) have not yet been shared to the public.
The cause of the crash has not yet been determined, and as such the runway has been temporarily shut down, where investigators from the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board of the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines are now at the site of the crash. Officials MIAA GM Ed Monreal and CAAP DDG for Operations Don Mendoza held a presscon at 10:30PM the same night of the crash to share further details with the public on the incident.
31-04 UPDATE: Reports have emerged saying that the Lionair aircraft was not distributing medical supplies. The patient onboard the Lionair crash in Manila was a Canadian citizen being transported in a connecting flight to Japan, which would then head home to Canada. Despite rumours that the patient was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was being transported to Japan for proper treatment of the virus, the patient had actually been in hospital for three weeks prior to the flight and was being treated for Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare immunity disorder. The patient had been discharged and cleared to fly, reports say.
The medical team onboard the flight were necessary because it was a medical evacuation.
“We are looking into grounding the whole fleet . . . it’s quite alarming,” said Mendoza.
The Lionair flight is not to be confused with the Indonesian carrier Lion Air, which were one of the two airlines that saw the first fatal crash involved with the Boeing 737 MAX in 2018. The two airlines are unrelated.
In line with the travel restrictions brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines cancelled domestic flights from March 14 onwards. The Lionair flight was considered a necessary one.
The names of the victims onboard the flight are yet to be officially announced.
The cause of the crash still remains to be identified.
Keep an eye out on our Travel Radar platforms for further updates!