Cargo plane crashes in the Philippines; 3 dead

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — An electrical fire forced a cargo plane's pilots to attempt an emergency landing in a Philippine rice field when the aircraft burst into flames, killing three of its six crew, investigators said Thursday.

The Russian-made Antonov-12 aircraft was flying from Mactan in the central Philippines and crashed late Wednesday in the field about 22 miles (35 kilometers) south of Clark airport, the former U.S. air base near Manila, said Alfonso Cusi, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

Firefighters struggled into the night to put out the flames that engulfed the aircraft after it exploded on impact, ripping the plane into two sections, said police Chief Inspector Carlito Fabro.

Villagers managed to rescue three crew members — two Russians and an Uzbek, who suffered bruises and were brought to a hospital in nearby Mexico township, police said.

Three other crew were found dead near the cockpit, Cusi said, adding investigators were trying to identify the burned bodies. A police report said they included two Russian ground engineers and a Bulgarian.

"They had a technical problem, and a fire broke out inside the plane," Cusi told The Associated Press. "Their communication signal suddenly got garbled then the plane disappeared in the radar."

Police quoted the Russian pilot as saying that the plane encountered electric circuit trouble about an hour into the flight, and a fire that broke out forced him to make an emergency landing on the open field.

The plane was chartered by shipping company UPS Inc. from its owner, Interisland Airlines of the Philippines, police said.