12 Aug 2009

Searchers in PNG have a lot of ground to cover

10:07 am on 12 August 2009

The search for a plane feared crashed in rugged terrain in Papua New Guinea will resume this morning.

13 people were aboard the Airlines of Papua New Guinea flight for the short trip from Port Moresby to Kokoda when it went missing yesterday.

An AAP correspondent in Port Moresby, Ilya Gridneff, says searchers have a lot of ground to cover.

"The Owen Stanley Range is famous for being a notoriously rugged mountainous, yesterday, searchers failed to find anything yesterday and also the locator beacon has failed to go off."

Ilya Gridneff says the passengers were on their way to walk the famous Kokoda track.

Meanwhile, the Australian Defence Minister John Faulkner says the task for those searching won't be easy.

Local search and rescue has begun, however the aircraft is believed to have been lost in extremely dense and rugged terrain and weather conditions are extremely poor.

Meanwhile, Australia's foreign minister, Stephen Smith, says local authorities believe they're close to finding the crash site.

He says the Australian Defence Force is sending helicopters and a ground crew to join the search.

Whether permitting, the PNG search effort will be complimented with two additional helicopters and we hope that two Australian Consular officers from our High Commission in Port Moresby will be able to get on the ground in that vicinity.

Australia's foreign minister Stephen Smith.