Indonesian airliner with 54 aboard crashes into mountain – USA TODAY
A crash site was found Sunday after an IndonesianÂ airliner with 54 people aboardÂ lost contact with air traffic control over a remote, mountainous areaÂ in bad weather, Indonesian officials said.
Air Transportation Director General Suprasetyo confirmed the plane was found by villagers who said it crashed into a mountainÂ in Papua, the nation’s largest and most eastern province. The fate of the 49 passengers â including five children âÂ and crew of five was not immediately known, he said.
“Residents provided information that the aircraft crashed into Tangok mountain,” Suprasetyo said.
The crash was third catastrophe for the Southeast Asian nation’s beleaguered air transportation systemÂ in less than a year.
The Transportation Ministry said the Trigana Air Service flightÂ lost contact 33 minutes into a 42-minute flight from theÂ provincial capital ofÂ Jayapura bound forÂ theÂ city of Oksibil.Â There was no indication of a distress call from the French-builtÂ ATR 42-300 twin turboprop plane, the ministry said.
Heavy rain, high winds and some fog was reported in the area around the time the plane disappeared. Papua is home to some of the world’s highest mountains as well as dense rain forests.
The National Search and Rescue Agency tweeted at about 7 a.m. ET â 6 p.m. local timeÂ âÂ that the search had been suspended due to limited visibility andÂ will resume early Monday.Â A short time later Suprasetyo confirmedÂ that villagers had found the crash site.
âWe are now working closely with the National Search and Rescue Agency to find the plane,âÂ Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan told the Associated Press.
The agency tweeted that it had not arrived at the site and could confirm no details. “We pray for the best for the passengers and crew,” the agency tweeted.
The European Union until JuneÂ hadÂ barred all Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns. In June, the EU regulatorÂ maintained the ban,Â with the exception of four airlines.Â Trigana Air Service is still banned from flying to the continent.
Trigana, a local airline founded in 1991, has had 14 “accidents and incidents” since 1992, according to the Aviation Safety Network database.
âItâs mountainous, very remote and the airfield runways are sometimes on the side of a hill, so it is not really an area for the faint-hearted to fly,â Aviation analyst Gerry SoejatmanÂ toldThe Guardian. âThere are bound to be accidents.â
Indonesia has made international headlines for two recent crashes.Â In June, more than 100 people died whenÂ a military plane crashed into a residential neighborhood in Medan, Indonesia’s third-largest city.Â In December, an AirAsia plane crashed in the Java Sea en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore, killing all 162 people aboard.Â
That tragedy spurred Indonesia to impose new regulations aimed at improving safety.Â The 17,000-island nation of 250 million people, the world’s fourth largest country by population, has seen rapid growth in the aviation industry. But the industry has struggledÂ to provide enoughÂ pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.