A blown tire caused an airplane carrying Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and other Cabinet officials to skid off the Tacloban City airport runway shortly after a separate jet with Pope Francis and his entourage on board took off.
Malacanang officials said Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista and Undersecretary Felizardo Serapio, eight staff members and three crew were on board the bombardier plane. The passengers were shaken but they are safe,
The incident occurred at past 1 p.m. as the group prepared for take off to return to Manila. The jet settled on a grassy portion at the end of the runway of the airport.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the officials went to Tacloban to ensure that the visit of Pope Francis in the province went well.
“All 15 passengers and crew members are all safe and suffered no injuries. The families of those on board have also been assured that their loved ones are safe,” he added.
Coloma’s deputy, Undersecretary Rey Marfil, confirmed that all officials on board the plane will fly back to Manila once the debris left by the incident were cleared. Other flights were similarly delayed since the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) conducted an investigation on what had caused the accident.
Lacierda earlier blamed it on strong winds brought by storm Amang that also forced the pope to cut short his visit in Tacloban.