Manila: An aircraft carrying a government entourage that accompanied Pope Francis’s visit to Tacloban City and Palo, Leyte figured in a runway accident Saturday amid rains.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte saying no one was hurt when a Bombardier Global carrying several government officials skidded off the wet runway at the Daniel Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City around 2pm.
The aircraft was second on the runway queue after Shepherd 1, the call sign for the Airbus A320 carrying the Pope, which had left Tacloban City less than an hour earlier.
Video footage shown by various networks covering the papal visit showed the aircraft being attended to by emergency rescue workers as fire fighters hosed it down with fire retardant foam.
The Bombardier Global was attempting to take-off when it had encountered the accident, Colonel Resty Padilla, spokesman for the armed forces said, adding a crane would be needed to get the aircraft off the runway.
The presence of the Bombardier rendered the runway unusable for several hours and caused delays in the flight queue.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, in a tweet immediately after the incident, said the flight was carrying 15 individuals including executive secretary Paquito Ochoa, presidential communications secretary Sonny Coloma, undersecretaries Felizardo Serapio and Usec. Manny Bautista, Malabon Congressman Jaye Lacson, three members of the flight crew and several others.
The aircraft made an attempt to get airborne to avoid full effects of typhoon Mekkhala, which started to affect the country Saturday. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) had placed Samar and Leyte under typhoon signal no 2 and winds as strong as 100km/h are expected.
Earlier Saturday, heavy winds brought about by the presence of Mekkhala (known in the Philippines as “Amang,” caused scaffoldings erected for the Pope’s celebration of mass in Tacloban City, to fall, pining down and killing a 21-year-old woman, radio station dzBB reported.
Fr. Amadeo Alvero, Palo Archdiocese’ social communications director, was quoted in the dzBB interview that the woman died after scaffoldings holding up an loudspeaker used for the event, fell on her.
“The strong winds caused the loudspeaker to fall and the scaffolding to collapse,” he said, adding that the diocese was saddened by the accident.
Pope Francis had held Mass at the airport earlier in front of tens of thousands of people and during heavy rains.
According to the PAGASA areas placed under storm signal no. 2 aside from Samar and Leyte are Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran as well as Catanduanes, Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Masbate, Burias and Ticlao Island.
Areas in Cebu, Panay and Southern Tagalog provinces are under signal number 1.