Plane with 54 on board crashes in remote Indonesian region – Officials

(Photo Credit: CBC News)

The wreckage of an Indonesian domestic flight with 54 people on board was reported to have been found in a mountainous area in Papua province, officials said.

The plane was initially declared missing after it lost contact with air traffic control on Sunday afternoon.

Latest reports said the Trigana Air Service received information from Papua residents claiming they have found the wreckage of the missing plane in the Bintang highlands region of Oksibil after it crashed into the mountains.

“The plane has been found (by villagers). According to residents, the flight had crashed into a mountain. Verification is still in process,” said Air Transportation Director General, Suprasetyo.

However, officials said the villagers’ reports have not yet been confirmed as the team still has to reach the site to verify and gather further information whether anyone on board have survived.

According to Transportation Ministry spokesman JA Barata, the Trigana Air Service plane, with flight code TGN267, left Sentani Airport in Jayapura at around 2:22 p.m and was scheduled to arrive in Oksibil in Papua at about 3:16 p.m. local time.

The Indonesian plane lost contact 33 minutes after take off and there were no indications that a distress call was made.

Reports said the plane, which was carrying 54 people on board, included five children and five crew members.

Search and rescue operation was launched Sunday afternoon, but it was later called off due to bad weather; adding that the visibility is limited because of the darkness. However, reports said that the operation will resume early Monday morning.

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It is still unclear why the plane went missing, but there are speculations that bad weather might have caused it.

Officials cited that the weather was fine when the plane left Jayapura, but CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera claimed there were thunderstorms over the mountainous areas which was in the flight path.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen also said that the “the weather was very bad” in Papua at the time the plane was in the air.

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