PHILIPPINE police formed a team that will probe the helicopter crash that almost killed their chief and injured seven other officers in San Pedro, Laguna province on Thursday.
Videos posted on Facebook showed the chopper carrying General Archie Francisco Gamboa was engulfed by dust moments before it took off from the impounding area of the Highway Patrol Group in the village of San Antonio at about 8 a.m.
The two-year-old twin-engine chopper later spun out of control after hitting high-tension power cables. Mr. Gamboa and the others were taken out of the helicopter before it went up in flames.
“It was too dusty,” Major General Benigno Durana, Jr. a police spokesman, said in Filipino.
“I don’t know if that’s one of the factors but like I said, the full-blown investigation is ongoing,” he told reporters at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City.
The police’s six remaining helicopters had been grounded pending the investigation, Mr. Durana said.
“All of them are now being attended to by doctors and we are hoping, as we are praying, for their swift recovery,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement.
“We ask the public to refrain from making speculations relative to the circumstances as we wait for the official results of the probe,” he added.
Mr. Gamboa and five of the officers, including the pilot and his co-pilot, were being confined at Taguig hospital and were out of danger, Mr. Durana said. Two other military officers confined at different hospitals in Laguna, were in critical condition he added. — Gillian M. Cortez and Emmanuel Tupas, PhilStar