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Wednesday, 8 December, 1999, 06:57 GMT
Philippines crash claims 17 lives



Hopes have been dashed for finding any survivors from a plane which crashed en route to the northern Philippines after rescuers pulled the bodies of all 17 passengers and crew from the wreckage.

The Asian Spirit plane, travelling between the capital Manila and Cauayan, 270km (165 miles) to the north-east.

It crashed in a mountainous area of Kasibu in Nueva Vizcaya province, officials said.

Soldiers found the wreckage of the 19-seat Czech-made Let L-410 aircraft, owned by the Asian Spirit airline, after local villagers reported the crash.

The 15 passengers and two crew members included a Briton, a Japanese, and a Filipino-American, who was the plane's co-pilot.

The airline identified the British passport holder as Robert Sinnaott and the Filipino-American as Glen del Rosario but gave no further details.

"The initial description was that the wreckage looked like it had burned," said General Rodolfo Garcia, commander of the army's 5th Infantry.

He said bad weather and poor communications had hampered recovery efforts and an earlier search from the air.

The plane's last reported contact with traffic controllers was at 0919 local time (0119 GMT) on Tuesday when the pilot radioed giving the plane's position as 60 nautical miles (96 km) out of Manila and a revised arrival time of 0937.

The plane had been due to land in Cauayan at 0940.

Cauayan's airport was reportedly closed temporarily on Tuesday morning because of bad visibility.

Asian Spirit began operating in 1996 after a liberalization of the Philippine airline industry.

It specializes in low-volume domestic routes and has nine planes.

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