Philippine plane crashes into sea

A plane carrying 34 people has crashed into the waters of Manila Bay in the Philippines, three minutes after taking off from the city's airport.

At least 14 people were killed and 16 survived after being plucked from the water, officials said.

The four other people who are still missing are feared dead.

The Fokker 27 plane had just left Manila for the northern city of Laoag at about 0600 local time on Monday (2200 GMT Sunday) when the air crew reported engine trouble.

The plane tried to return to the airport but crashed into the sea just one kilometre short of the runway. Witnesses said the plane sounded like it was having engine trouble.

At least six Australians and three Britons were on board flight 585, but it is not known what happened to them.

The Australian embassy said it could only confirm one Australian survivor, 25-year-old Steve Thompson from Sydney.

Mr Thompson said he saw smoke coming from the left side of the plane just before the pilot came on the intercom to tell passengers to brace for impact.

Asked if the passengers panicked, Mr Thompson said: "The cabin instantly filled with water, so no one made any noise".

Planes grounded

Local fishing boats were the first vessels on the scene, and many of the survivors were rescued by fishermen.

Coastguard boats then arrived to join the rescue effort and divers searched the 20 metre-deep waters of Manila Bay for survivors and victims.

Those rescued included the plane's captain, Bernie Crisostomo, his co-pilot and a flight attendant.

Flight attendant Adhika Espinosa told Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, who was visiting some of the survivors in hospital, that he helped several passengers escape.

Navy officials said some of the victims, including a young boy, were found still strapped to their seats.

Adelberto Yap, chief of air transportation for the Philippines, said the aircraft went down in shallow water and broke in half.

Mr Yap said the airline's four other Fokker planes had been grounded pending further investigations.

Second Fokker

This is the second crash of a Fokker aircraft in less than a week.

Twenty of the 22 passengers and crew died at Luxembourg's international airport on 6 November when a twin-engine Fokker 50 smashed into a field in thick fog.

The last major plane crash in the Philippines was in April 2000, when an Air Philippine Boeing 737 crashed near the southern city of Davao.

All 131 people onboard were killed.

11/11/2002

Bron : BBC World News

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