Free Press Journal

Bad weather hampers Indonesian plane crash search


Indonesia plane

Jakarta: Bad weather on Monday hampered efforts to reach a remote site where an Indonesian plane crashed with 54 people and cash worth almost half a million dollars on board.

The Trigana Air ATR 42-300 plane disappeared just after take-off on Sunday enroute from Papua’s capital Jayapura to Oksibil. It was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members.

Henry Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), said searcher planes operated by Trigana Air Service had spotted the debris and smoke believed to be from the crashed plane earlier in the day, Xinhua news agency reported.

Soelistyo said the crash site was located in a remote mountainous area, not far from Oksibil city.

Reports said the plane hit the slope of Tangok mountain, part of Bintang mountain in the Papua province.

Weather at the crash site is unpredictable as thick fog which reduced visibility to one metre and rain hit the cold mountainous area.

Communication is another issue that may hinder the process as the crash area has minimum telecommunication signal, Soelistyo added.

Besides passengers, also on the plane was 6.5 billion rupiah ($470,000) in cash — social assistance funds being transported for distribution to poor families, according to the head of the Jayapura post office.

Basarnas and Indonesian military deployed 266 people to search the crash site since Monday morning. The search efforts involved 10 small planes and helicopters.

Transportation in the mountainous area of the Papua province is mainly served by propeller planes capable of taking off and landing on airstrips with less than one km runway that commonly serve several cities located on the hillside in the province.