Makassar: For a second day, searchers failed to locate a plane with 10 people on board that went missing in eastern Indonesia, officials said today.
The search for the DHC-5 Twin Otter turboprop plane, owned by the Aviastar Mandiri airline, was again hindered by bad weather and rough terrain, said Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency.
The plane lost contact with air traffic controllers 11 minutes after taking off in good weather Friday from Masamba in South Sulawesi province.
It was on a routine flight to Makassar, the provincial capital, carrying three crew members and seven passengers, including three children. No distress signal was received.
“Today search have not yet produced any result as expected although we have expanded the search area,” Soelistyo said. “I myself have checked locations reported by the locals, but we found nothing.”
Two aircraft and two helicopters combed areas around the location where the missing plane was believed to have made the last contact and areas where villagers allegedly heard or spotted the plane before it went missing, said Ivan Ahmad Titus, the agency’s operation director.
Soelistyo said the plane may not have been equipped with an emergency locator transmitter, a device attached to the so-called black boxes, which emits a signal indicating its position. Director General of Air Transportation Suprasetyo said officials were investigating that possibility.
Tomorrow’s aerial search would focus on the sea, while on the ground, soldiers and policemen would search along the 150- mile route of the Masamba-Makassar flight.
The 1981 Canadian-made plane joined Aviastar in January 2014 and underwent its most recent maintenance on September 15.
Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago nation of about 250 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents in recent years, including plane and train crashes and ferry sinkings.
It is one of Asia’s most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to obtain qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and modern airport technology.
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