Indonesia resumes search for plane crash victims

So far 17 bodies have been evacuated in the search operation.

Jakarta: Indonesian search and rescue teams intensified underwater operations Sunday to recover bodies from a plane that crashed into the sea in eastern Indonesia killing everyone on board, officials said.

"We deployed today 20 divers including from police and navy to locate the victims` bodies," local search and rescue chief on site Efendi Rajaloa said.

The twin turbo-prop plane operated by Merpati Nusantara broke into pieces during a downpour on Saturday, minutes before its intended landing in Kaimana district in West Papua province.

"Our team started the search operation this morning. We have evacuated so far 17 bodies," he said.

Indonesia`s air transport ministry director general Herry Bhakti Singayuda confirmed there were 21 passengers -- including three children -- and six crew on board.

"According to a written report from the airline company, the plane was transporting 27 people when the accident took place," he said.

There were conflicting reports earlier on the number of people on board.

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

Bureau Report