Indonesia rescuers head to mountains in missing plane search

Updated: 2015-08-17 09:25


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Indonesia rescuers head to mountains in missing plane search

The mother of a missing Trigana Air plane crew member (C) cries as she walks out of Trigana Air main office, in Jakarta, Indonesia, 16 August 2015. [Photo/IC]

JAYAPURA, Indonesia - Search planes were hunting Monday for an airliner carrying 54 that went missing during a short flight in bad weather in Indonesia's mountainous easternmost province of Papua, with rescuers heading to an area where villagers reported seeing a plane crash into a mountain.

The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Papua's provincial capital, Jayapura, to the Papua city of Oksibil on Sunday when it lost contact with Oksibil's airport, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata. There was no indication that the pilot had made a distress call, he said.

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on a scheduled 42-minute journey, Barata said. Five children, including two infants, were among the passengers.

At least seven planes were searching close to Mount Tangok early Monday after residents of Okbape village in Papua's Bintang district told local police that they saw a plane flying low before crashing into the mountain, said Ludiyanto, who heads the search and rescue operation from Jayapura.

Ludiyanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said that rugged, forested terrain and bad weather prevented about 100 rescuers from reaching the site by foot, and no trace of the plane has been seen as cloudy and foggy had limited visibility.

Local media reports said all the passengers are Indonesians. The airline has not released a passenger manifest.

Oksibil, which is 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 Papua's search and rescue agency.

Okbape is 24 kilometers (15 miles) west of Oksibil.

A plane was sent Sunday to look for the missing airliner, but the search was suspended due to darkness and limited visibility.

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