CNN Philippines — “I’m scared as hell. But first lemme fix my hair.’ This was part of a message posted on social media by a young doctor who was among eight people killed after a plane on a medical evacuation flight caught fire on Sunday while taking off at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Philippine Medical Association Vice President Dr. Benito Atienza on Monday said Dr. Cenover Nicandro "Nicko" Bautista was assigned to accompany a patient on board the ill-fated flight.
"He was assigned to one patient coming from the province. The patient wants to be transferred to Japan because there is a COVID patient in the previous hospital where the patient was admitted. Kapag nag-transfer tayo ng patient, dapat may isang doctor, nurse," he told CNN Philippines' The Source.
The Agusta WW24 aircraft carrying the group caught fire Sunday, just before 8 p.m. An American national, a Canadian national and six Filipinos including Bautista perished in the flight. The Filipinos also included a flight medic, a nurse, and three flight crew.
The young doctor's sister Ria Bautista mourned the loss of her brother.
"I lost my brother on that flight. No words can describe how devastating it is to lose a family member in such a horrific way. How do you process something like this. How. All I know is that he fought like a hero and I can only hope that his fight would not be in vain," the former Paramita lead vocalist wrote.
Mandaluyong Councilor Charisse Abalos said Bautista was a doctor in the surgery department at the Mandaluyong City Medical Center
Investigation on the incident is still ongoing, but an initial statement from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said the aircraft reportedly encountered a technical problem while rolling for takeoff on Runway 06/24. The Manila International Airport Authority said the accident happened at the end of the runway as the aircraft was taking off.
The MIAA said its fire and rescue team was immediately dispatched to extinguish the flames that engulfed the plane.
CAAP Deputy Director General Don Mendoza said the aircraft, operated by Lionair, was airworthy and its pilots' licenses were current.
NAIA Runway 06/24 was opened early morning Monday.