All dead in Indonesia plane crash
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Last Updated: Saturday, May 07, 2011, 23:38
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.


First Published: Saturday, May 07, 2011, 23:38

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