INDONESIA – Indonesian plane carrying 54 goes missing in remote Papua region (France 24)
An Indonesian passenger plane carrying 54 people lost contact with air traffic control Sunday during a flight in the rugged easternmost province of Papua, officials said.
The Trigana Air ATR 42 turboprop plane lost contact just before 3:00 pm (0600 GMT) after taking off from Sentani airport in Papua’s capital Jayapura on a flight to Oksibil, the search and rescue agency said on Twitter.
The plane was carrying 44 adults, five children and five crew on the flight which was scheduled to take about 45 minutes, the agency said. It had left Jayapura about half an hour before it disappeared, it added.
Transport ministry spokesman J.A. Barata confirmed the plane had lost contact and said it was supposed to arrive at Oksibil airport just after 3:00 pm.
“We are not sure what happened to the plane yet and we are coordinating with local authorities,” he told AFP.
“The weather is currently very bad there, it’s very dark and cloudy. It’s not conducive for a search. The area is mountainous.”
A plane was sent to look for the missing airliner, but the search was later suspended due to darkness and bad weather, officials said.
Trigana Air, an Indonesian airline, is on the list of carriers banned from flying in the European Union.
Indonesia has a patchy aviation safety record. In December an AirAsia plane flying from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore crashed in the Java Sea during stormy weather, killing all 162 people on board.
Much of the remote Papua region is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed there in the past have never been found.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)