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Tuesday, February 3, 1998 Published at 22:45 GMT


No survivors in Philippines plane crash
image: [ A DC-9 plane similar to the one that crashed carrying 104 people in the Philippines ]
A DC-9 plane similar to the one that crashed carrying 104 people in the Philippines

A search party has reached the wreckage of a plane crash in a remote mountainous area of the southern Philippines.

Despite earlier reports of possible survivors, it is now believed that all 100 on board have died.

The plane, a Cebu Pacific DC-9, was on an internal flight from Manila when it crashed in thick forest on the side of Mount Sumagaya.

Early statements from local witnesses to the crash said the plane exploded when it hit the mountain's slopes.

Following an aerial observation, the rescue team leader, Jacinto Ligot, said: "We did not see any big portion of the plane and we assume that it exploded.

"We saw debris but we did not see any moving human beings or any people around."

The final contact between the plane and ground control came 12 minutes before it was due to land at Cagayan de Oro.

The pilot said he was flying at 11,500ft and preparing to descend. He did not mention any problems.

[ image: The survivors were found 28 miles from Cagayan de Oro]
The survivors were found 28 miles from Cagayan de Oro
The passengers included a number of foreigners, and five crew members are also missing.

Staff at the airport said the aircraft was intending to land under visual and not instrumental control when it vanished from their radar screen.

Air transport officials said the plane's path from that point to the airport would have taken it over a mountainous area. "If the base of the clouds is too low, it's hard for the pilot to see the tip of the mountains," said Bong Meneses, an air transport official.

He said weather at the airport was clear at the time but added: "We're not sure how it was in the mountains."

Cebu Pacific, which was created in 1996 when the Philippines deregulated the aviation industry, said the plane was 31 years old and made by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft.

The Boeing Company, owners of McDonnell Douglas, has promised to send investigators to the Philippines to assist the inquiry into the cause of what could be the country's worst air disaster.

A year earlier to the day, a small Cessna plane crashed in the mountains when landing at the same airport.

The accident killed both pilots shortly after the presidential candidate Renato de Villa disembarked at a previous stop. It was blamed on pilot error.

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