Indonesia passenger plane with 54 on board found crashed in ...
Papua province, Indonesia. (Source: Google Maps)
Indonesian airliner carrying 54 people found crashed in Oktabe district, Papua on Sunday after losing contact with ground control during a short flight in bad weather, transportation ministry official said.
Local villagers also told authorities that they saw a plane crash into a mountain, and scores of rescuers were heading to the remote area and will begin searching there Mond ay morning. An air search for the missing plane was suspended and will resume Monday as well.
The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Papuaâs provincial capital, Jayapura, to the Papua city of Oksibil when it lost contact with Oksibilâs airport, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata. There was no indication that the pilot had made a distress call, he said.
Relatives of passengers on the missing Trigana Air Service flight stand in front of its closed offices at Sentani airport in Jayapura, Papua province, Indonesia, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. (Source: AP)
The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on the scheduled 42-minute journey, Barata said. Five children, including three infants, were among the passengers.
Oksibil, which is about 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Jayapura, was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land, said Susanto, the head of Papuaâs search and rescue agency.
Residents of Okbape village in Papuaâs Bintang district told local police that they saw a plane flying low before crashing into a mountain, said Susanto, who like many Indonesi ans goes by one name. He said about 150 rescuers were heading to the area, which is known for its dense forest and steep cliffs, and would begin searching for the plane early Monday.
Okbape is about 24 kilometers (15 miles) west of Oksibil.
A plane was sent Sunday to look for the missing airliner, but the air search was suspended due to darkness and limited visibility and will resume Monday morning, Susanto said.
Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed there in the past have never been found.
Dudi Sudibyo, an aviation analyst, said that Papua is a particularly dangerous place to fly because of its mountainous terrain and rapidly changing weather patterns. âI can say that a pilot who is capable of flying there will be able to fly an aircraft in any part of the world,â he said.
Indonesia has had its share of airline woes in recent years. The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asiaâs most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.
From 2007 to 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.
Last December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it ran into stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesiaâs second-largest city, to Singapore.
That disaster was one of five suffered by Asian carriers in a 12-month span, including Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which went missing in March 2014 with 239 people aboard during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Trigana Air Service, which commenced operations in 1991, had 22 aircraft as of December 2013 and flies to 21 destinations in Indonesia.
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