Jayapura: Rescuers battled Monday to reach a remote, mountainous site in eastern Indonesia where debris has been spotted after a plane carrying 54 people and cash worth almost half a million dollars crashed at the weekend.
The plane operated by Indonesian carrier Trigana Air lost contact with air traffic control on Sunday afternoon during a short flight in bad weather from Jayapura, capital of Papua province.
The ATR 42-300 twin-turboprop plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew on the short flight to Oksibil, a remote settlement in the mountains to the south of Jayapura.
Also on the flight was 6.5 billion rupiah ($470,000) in cash stored in four bags, which were government funds being transported by postal officials for distribution to poor families, said Haryono, head of the Jayapura post office, who goes by one name.
But the plane disappeared about 10 minutes before reaching its destination, shortly after it requested permission to start descending to land.
It is just the latest air accident in Indonesia which has a patchy aviation safety record and has suffered major incidents recently, including the crash of an AirAsia plane in December with the loss of 162 lives.
Officials said at the weekend that villagers had seen a plane crashing into a mountain not far from Oksibil, and had found wreckage. On Monday the transport ministry said a search plane had also spotted wreckage in the area.
“Early this morning, a plane swept the route and sighted debris in an area near Oksibil, but we want to double-check now,” transport ministry spokesman J. A. Barata said.
Bambang Soelistyo, head of the search and rescue agency, told reporters in Jayapura that debris engulfed in smoke had been spotted from the air.
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