The Philippine Air Force has informed the maker of its Sokol helicopters about last Thursday’s crash in Marawi City and asked the company to help determine the cause.

“The manufacturer was already notified through its local representative and they shall assist the PAF in determining the cause of the accident,” Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya said Saturday.

Canaya said investigation into the crash has already started and might take some time.

“It may take time but PAF will [try] to expedite the process,” he said.

Investigators have also yet to assess if the helicopter can be repaired, Canaya said.

The ill-fated Sokol no. 295 is one of eight units which the government bought from Polish manufacturer PZL Swidnik and British-Italian firm AugustaWestland for P2.8 billion.

It remained at the crash site in Kampo Ranao, Brgy. Saber, as of Saturday but will be moved to facilitate the probe.

“We are moving it to a secure place where investigators can further examine the parts for clues. I have no information yet where it will be moved,” Canaya said.

The seven remaining Sokol units will be grounded until the investigation is completed, he said.

Meanwhile, Canaya said the military has also made assessments of the damage suffered by the community where the crash occurred.

Military photos and television reports showed that roofs and walls of some houses and a daycare center, as well as wooden fences, were blown away by strong winds from the helicopter.

“Efforts were already done to the determine the damage to properties caused by the acccident and the military will address this matter,” Canaya said.

The crash also left the helicopter’s gunner and a local resident slightly injured. (John Roson)

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