17 Aug 2015

Wreckage of missing plane found in Indonesia

6:43 am on 17 August 2015

The wreckage of a passenger plane that went missing in Indonesia with 54 people on board has been found.

Indonesia's Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan (C) speaks during a press conference in Jakarta.

Indonesia's Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan (C) speaks during a press conference in Jakarta. Photo: AFP

A government official said the turboprop plane, operated by the domestic Trigana Air Service, had been found in the district of Oktabe in the eastern Papua region.

It was making the 45-minute flight from Jayapura to Oksibil when it lost contact with air traffic control last night, shortly after the pilot asked to descend.

An aviation commentator, Gerry Soejatman, said search and rescue teams would not be able to reach the wreckage quickly, as the terrain was mountainous and densely forested, with few roads.

Indonesia's transport minister said the aircraft had been found in the Bintang highlands region, not far from its intended landing site at Oksibil airport. It is not yet known if anyone survived.

The wreckage was discovered by villagers, who then alerted officials.

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was carrying 44 adult passengers, five children and infants, and five crew.

It took off from Sentani airport in Jayapura at 14:21, but lost contact with air traffic controllers half an hour later.

An official search was suspended due to poor light.

Oksibil, about 280km south of Jayapura, is a remote, mountainous region, which is extremely difficult to navigate.

Bad weather is believed to have been a possible reason for the crash.

A second plane, which had been sent to look for the missing one, was forced to turn back because of dangerous flying conditions.

Trigana Air has had 14 serious incidents since it began operations in 1991, losing 10 aircraft in the process, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

It has been on a European Union blacklist of banned carriers since 2007. All but four of Indonesia's certified airlines are on the list.

Indonesia has suffered two major air disasters in the past year.

Last December an AirAsia plane crashed in the Java Sea, killing all 192 people on board - and in July a military transport plane crashed in a residential area of Medan, Sumatra claiming 140 lives.


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