All dead in Indonesia plane crash

The plane crashed as it was about to land in bad weather in West Papua.

Updated: May 07, 2011, 23:38 PM IST

Jakarta: A plane carrying about 25
passengers and crew crashed into the sea during a downpour
Saturday in eastern Indonesia, killing everyone on board, a
navy officer told local radio.

"I can confirm that all the passengers were killed
when the plane exploded as it crashed into the sea," a navy
officer involved in the search told ElShinta radio.

"The aircraft was smashed to pieces... We found 15
bodies floating on the water and the other passengers are
trapped inside the wreckage."

A transport ministry spokesman earlier said there
were 27 people -- 21 passengers and six crew -- on board the
Merpati Nusantara airlines MA-60 aircraft.

The twin turbo-prop plane took off from Sorong city
in West Papua province for Kaimana district about 400
kilometres to the south, he said.

The navy official, Gunawan, said that about 10 navy
divers had tried to find other passengers inside the wreckage,
which had sunk about six kilometres deep.

"We had difficulties locating them due to strong
currents and limited equipment," he said, adding that the
accident took place about 400 metres from the coastline.

Heavy rain was pouring down when the accident
happened around midday, he said.

Airline officials were unable to comment on the
chronology of the accident or the exact number of passengers.

"The weather was bad as there was heavy rainfall,
which shortened the (pilot`s) range of vision. It was also
very dark. Thus, the airplane did not reach the runway," the
director general at the Ministry of Air Transportation, Herry
Bakti, was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.

Those killed included two children and a baby, the
Jakarta Globe reported.

In 2009 a Twin Otter plane also operated by Merpati
Nusantara crashed into the side of a mountain in remote Papua
while on an internal flight, killing all 16 people on board.

Another of the airline`s planes overran a runway
after landing in Manokwari in West Papua in April 2010,
breaking into three pieces and injuring 44 of the more than
100 people on board.

The vast Indonesian archipelago relies heavily on
air transport and has one of Asia`s worst air safety records.

In 2007, a plane run by the now-defunct Adam Air
with 102 passengers and crew crashed in deep water off the
coast of Sulawesi, with no survivors. No bodies were recovered
and only fragments of the aircraft were washed up.

After that crash the European Union banned all
Indonesian airlines from entering its airspace, but relaxed
the ban on some of the airlines two years later after it said
many safety problems had been resolved.