File photo from Philippine News Agency

A crew member was killed while two police pilots were injured after an Airbus H-125 helicopter of the Philippine National Police (PNP) crashed in Real, Quezon while on an administrative mission on Monday.

“The ill-fated (Airbus) H-125 with registry number RP-9710 was earlier reported missing hours after taking off at 6:17 a.m. from the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay City en route to Northern Quezon on an administrative mission,” PNP public information office chief Brig. Gen. Roderick Augustus Alba said in a statement.

Rescue teams from the PNP, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the local government unit reached the crash site in Barangay Pandan, Real, Quezon at 8:05 a.m. and evacuated three wounded police officers.

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Alba said the fatality identified as Pat. Allen Noel Ona died while undergoing treatment.

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Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Dexter Vitug, the pilot, and Lt. Col. Michael Melloria, the co-pilot, are now “undergoing further medical treatment at a private hospital in Infanta, Quezon.”

Reports reaching the PNP Command Center indicated that the crash site was approximately 30 kilometers from the town proper of Real, Quezon where rains were experienced on Monday morning.

“The PNP National Headquarters has grounded the entire fleet of H-125 Airbus police helicopters while an investigation is underway in coordination with CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines), DOTr (Department of Transportation) and other concerned agencies,” Alba added.

The PNP earlier said it has around nine helicopters, of which four Airbus H-125 units are operational, with another three undergoing maintenance, and two Robinson R44 helicopters — one operational and another undergoing maintenance checkup.

Also, there are now six PNP officers with commercial pilot licenses and seven with private pilot licenses for these helicopters with another one with a commercial pilot license for fixed-wing aircraft.

In March 2020, a helicopter carrying ranking police officials, including retired PNP chief Archie Gamboa, crashed upon takeoff when it hit a high-tension wire due to poor visibility caused by thick dust in Laguna.

Then director for comptrollership, Maj. Gen. Jovic Ramos succumbed to injuries from the mishap in October 2020 after being hospitalized for seven months. (PNA)

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