TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – A small plane skidded off the wet runway of the Tacloban airport as it attempted to take off Saturday, January 17.
Live images of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport showed firetrucks hosing down the downed plane as it lay on the grassy area off the runway.
"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," a Palace statement said.
Among the passengers of the plane were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr, Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista and Undersecretary Felizardo Serapio.
"The aforementioned officials were on hand in Tacloban to ensure that the activities of Pope Francis in Tacloban and Palo would go as planned," a statement released by Malacañang said.
“I personally spoke to Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa who was among the 11 official passengers, he said, he is okay. Executive Secretary Ochoa also reports that everybody in the plane are okay too," said Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.
“President Aquino has been informed about the incident. We have already coordinated with DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya, to find out ASAP if this incident is weather related, or due to mechanical malfunction or some other reason," he added.
The incident occurred less than an hour after Pope Francis departed the airport on a shortened trip to the island, due to the approaching Tropical Storm Amang (Mekkhala). – With reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com