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CNN Today

Authorities Seek Cause of Air Philippines Crash Killing 131

Aired April 19, 2000 - 1:02 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities are trying to determine why an airliner filled with Easter holiday travelers crashed in the Philippines today. Everyone was killed. The plane was on a domestic flight. It crashed in the southern Philippines on a popular resort island.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Air Philippines Flight 541 left Manila at dawn. The flight to Davao normally takes an hour. But when the Boeing 737 didn't arrive, authorities launched a search-and-rescue operation. One hour later, the crash site was located on the island of Samal, a few miles from the airport. The plane carrying 131 people had crashed in a remote coconut plantation. No survivors have been found, but the plane's voice recorder has.

Investigators say the plane was on its second approach to the airport. Air traffic controllers say that's because there was another plane on the runway. Low cloud cover may also have been a factor. Authorities say the pilot reported no mechanical problems with the 22- year-old jet, which was crowded with vacationers taking advantage of the long Easter weekend. Davao Island is known for its beaches and diving.

Dozens of families are still awaiting word on their relatives. The government says it will fly those in Manila to the crash site. Forensic investigators are already on the scene to help identify bodies. The search of the wreckage is to continue throughout the night.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Today's crash was the worst air disaster in Philippine history and it came just days after a pair of ferry disasters in that country which killed more than 140 people.

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