`Missing` Indonesian rescue helicopter safe

The sprawling Indonesian archipelago relies heavily on air transport and has a poor aviation safety record.

Updated: Sep 11, 2011, 13:58 PM IST

Jakarta: An Indonesian rescue helicopter feared to have crashed in the remote province of Papua during a mission to find two foreign pilots was safe and in good condition, according to the military.

The rescue chopper had been searching for the Australian and Slovakian pilots from a crashed Susi Air aircraft but the helicopter lost contact on Saturday, said Mimika military district commander Christian Tuhuteru.

"Everyone was safe and the chopper is in good condition. They may continue on their Susi Air evacuation mission," Tuhuteru said of the Bell helicopter, which had five people on board.

"There might be a failure of the communication system of the chopper so it could not report us its position. Moreover the weather has been bad," he said.

Susi Air`s small Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft crashed in Papua`s Yahukimo district shortly after taking off from Wamena on Friday. It was carrying fuel and food to a remote area.

Susi Air said they had spotted the wreckage and the pilots would have had little chance of surviving.

The sprawling Indonesian archipelago relies heavily on air transport and has a poor aviation safety record. Turbulent weather conditions in Papua have caused several accidents in recent years.

Bureau Report