An Indonesian domestic aircraft carrying 54 people that lost contact with air traffic control has been found crashed by villagers, a transport ministry official has said.
The Trigana Airlines plane, carrying 49 passengers, including five children, and five crew, was travelling from Jayapura, the provincial capital, to Oksibil, near the border with Papua New Guinea.
The plane went missing after flying through heavy weather in the remote eastern province of Papua but residents and officials said the plane crashed in Oktabe district in Papua.
"The plane has been found (by villagers). According to residents, the flight had crashed into a mountain. Verification is still in process," said the transport ministry's director-general of air transportation, Suprasetyo, who goes by one name.
Officials were still verifying the information from local residents, he said. There was no information about whether anyone may have survived.
Search and rescue teams, police and the military would head to the site as soon as possible Monday, said J A Barata, transport ministry spokesman.
After the plane failed to land, Trigana Air sent another flight over the area to hunt for it but the aircraft failed to spot anything due to bad weather.
The weather was poor near Oksibil, with heavy rain, strong winds and fog, when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land.
BREAKING #IL267 departed Jayapura 05:21UTC and was expected to arrive at Oksibil 06:16UTC http://ift.tt/1HP5aRv
As poor weather prevented a search earlier in the day, the agency said the ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane lost contact with air traffic control at 2.55pm local time, about 33 minutes after take-off and just five minutes before it was due to arrive at Oksibil.
Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed there in the past have never been found.ndonesia is known for its poor safety record and has numerous airlines – including Trigana – that are on the European Union’s list of carriers banned from European airspace.
Last December, an AirAsia passenger jet crashed during a two-hour flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, killing all 162 people on board. The government subsequently introduced tougher air safety regulations. A final report on the crash is due to be released this month but authorities have indicated the disaster was caused by an attempt to avoid heavy weather.
In June, more than 100 people died after a military plane crashed into a residential neighborhood in Medan, the country’s third-largest city. The president has promised a review of the air force's ageing fleet.
Analysts say Indonesian regulators have struggled to keep a watch on the airline sector, particularly the large number of low-cost carriers which haveemerged in recent years to ferry people around the sprawling archipelago of 17,000 islands.