Aircraft carrying gov't officials skids off Tacloban airport after Pope's plane took off

A private aircraft carrying Philippine government officials skidded off the runway shortly after the Pope's plane took off Tacloban airport.

Plane carrying gov't officials skids off Tacloban runway
Photo credit: Marc Jayson Cayabyab ‏(@MJcayabyabINQ) via Twitter
Initial reports said an explosion and fire occured in the tire area of the Global Express airplane.

Among the passengers were cabinet members who attended the papal mass held Saturday near the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport.

An official statement from MalacaƱang said all those on board were safe.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said strong winds forced a plane carrying Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista and Undersecretary Felizardo Serapio, Jr., eight other staff members and three crew members to overshoot the runway at Tacloban Airport.

"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," Lacierda said.

The officials were in Tacloban to ensure safe and orderly conduct of activities of Pope Francis who visited Tacloban and Palo, Leyte, on Saturday.

Lacierda added that Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas has informed President Aquino about the incident.

"The President was happy to hear that all on board were safe and directed the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to investigate whether the proximate cause of the incident was weather-related or otherwise," he noted.

Pope Francis, who is in the third day of his visit in the Philippines, had to rush back to Manila earlier than expected because of the bad weather, the statement said. On Sunday, the pope will lead a massive mass at the Quirino Grandstand, which authorities said could surpass a 1995 record in terms of the number of attendees.

The pope is in a weeklong Asia tour visiting Sri Lanka and the Philippines. He will return to the Vatican on Monday morning.