A New Zealand couple was among nine people killed in a small plane that was conducting a medical airlift when it crashed and exploded in flames at a resort south of Manila on Sunday, Philippine authorities say.
- Tom and Erma Carr were flying to Manila
- The flight was a medical evacuation with Mr Carr being the patient
- Authorities are investigating what caused the Beechcraft King Air plane to crash
Investigators are trying to determine what caused the tragedy, officials said on Monday.
Philippine authorities identified the couple as Tom Carr and Erma Carr, a Filipina with New Zealand citizenship.
Wellington’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was providing consular assistance to the family of the couple “who sadly died in the plane crash in the Philippines,” but that it could not provide any other information for privacy reasons.
Videos posted online by witnesses showed smoke coming from the plane as it flew low over trees and houses before crashing and igniting a fire in a resort compound, where nine bodies were retrieved from the wreckage.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said it was investigating why the Beechcraft King Air plane carrying the couple and seven Filipinos, including a medical team, crashed on Sunday in Pansol village in Laguna province as it approached its destination, Manila.
Eric Apolonio, a CAAP spokesman, said the plane suddenly plummeted out of radar range near Mount Makiling over Pansol, a resort village popular for swimming pools and hot springs, but he would not comment on what could have caused the crash.
Two resort caretakers sustained burns and were taken to hospital, police said.
Mr Apolonio said Mr Carr was the patient being transported from southern Dipolog city in Zamboanga del Norte province to Manila on the 11-seater plane.
Philippine media have identified the other passengers who were killed in the plane crash as pilot Captain Jesus Hernandez, co-pilot First Officer Lino Cruz Jr, Dr Garret Garcia, nurses Kirk Eoin Badiola and Yamato Togawa, Ryx Gil Laput and Raymond Bulacja.
Friends expressed shock over the couple’s sudden death. They were scheduled to fly back to New Zealand in a few weeks to celebrate their birthdays.
Lynne Ariston-Smith, who is originally from the Philippines, told The Associated Press in New Zealand that she had been a close friend of Ms Carr since she married Mr Carr — who went by his middle name, Laurence — and moved to New Zealand a little over 20 years ago.
“She was loved by everybody and was a very loving person, too,” Ms Ariston-Smith said.
The couple had travelled to the Philippines to spend six months with Ms Carr’s family. Last month, Ms Carr wrote on Facebook that she had wanted to spend time with her brother in the Philippines who was very ill, she said.
Ms Ariston-Smith said Mr Carr was a retired farmer while Ms Carr was very active helping at her children’s primary school in the small North Island town of Ruakaka where the couple lived.
Ms Carr was also very close to a group of Catholics and other Christian friends who did good work in the community, she said.
The friend said Mr Laurence, who was in his early 70s, had been suffering from some health problems, but Ms Carr, who was in her early 50s, had been helping look after him.
The couple had one adult child together, Vincent, and had recently adopted Ms Carr’s nephew and niece from the Philippines, Nino and Nina, aged about 11 and 9.
“I think I’m still in shock,” Ms Ariston-Smith said.
“She was supposed be back on the 20th for her and Laurence’s birthdays.”