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Body of Philippine hijacker found

MANILA, Philippines, May 26 -- The man who bailed out of a Philippine Arilines Airbus jet he had tried to hijack was found dead and almost buried in mud Friday on a forested area east of Manila, the police said.

Meanwhile, an airport security official in charge of security was sacked for incompetence that lead to Thursday's hijacking of the aircraft, which was carrying 289 people.

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A man carried a hand-made gun and a grenade on the aircraft. After the pilots refused his demand to fly the plane back to the southern city of Davao, he asked crew attendants to collect money from the passengers and later bailed out wearing a parachute.

The plane was on its way to Manila from Davao when the hijacking took place.

The man was listed in PAL's manifest as Augusto Lacandula. However, a torn residence certificate identified him as A.S. Lakandula, while a driver's license indicated his name as Reginald Chua. Another identification card said he was Rey Chua.

Newspaper reports said the hijacker was complaining that his wife had left him and that he complaining of being in dire financial straits.

The suspect's body was found in mud in a forested area in Real town, east of Manila, with only a hand and a leg sticking out, the police said.

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The police said witnesses saw the man separate from his parachute while he was falling from the plane.

The wads of bills he was able to collect from the plane's passenger were missing. Gone, too, was the grenade he used in hijacking.

PAL spokesman Rolando Estabillo denied reports that PAL's crew members pushed the man out of the plane against his will. He said a steward assisted the hijacker when he got entangled in a small opening and that the attendant was even worried that the grenade then held by the suspect would fall and go off in the aircraft.

The superintendent of the Davao police airport was dismissed from his job, while regional aviation security chief Superintendent Ramon Salvilla, offered to resign.

Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora said he was "surprised" the man was able to pass through Davao airport's security. "There is really a major defect there that we have not yet identified," Zamora said.NEWLN:

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