Villagers in eastern Indonesia's Papua region say they have found the wreckage of a plane which went missing in the province with 54 people aboard, an official has said.

"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.

Indonesia's state search and rescue agency had reported that it has lost contact with the aircraft earlier on Sunday.

The passengers on the plane, reported to be an ATR-42 model, include 44 adults, two children, three toddlers and five crew members. 

According a tweet by the National Agency Search and Rescue agency, the aircraft lost contact while flying over the remote eastern Papua region at 2:55pm local time.

Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen, reporting from Jakarta, said the plane had been scheduled to land at a small airport in Oksibil at around 3pm local time (06:00 GMT).

Oksibil is a remote town near the country's border with Papua New Guinea.

Vaessen said reports indicated that "the weather was very bad" in Papua at the time the plane was in the air.

Small aircraft are commonly used for transport in remote, mountainous Papua, and bad weather has caused several accidents in recent years.

On Wednesday, a Cessna propeller plane operated by Indonesian company Komala Air crashed in Papua's Yahukimo district, killing one person and seriously injuring the five others on board.

Officials suspect that the crash was caused by bad weather. 


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Last December, an AirAsia passenger jet crashed en route from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, killing all 162 people on board.

The crash prompted the government to introduce regulations aimed at improving safety.

Indonesia's president promised a review of the ageing air force fleet in July after a military transport plane crashed in the north of the country, killing 130 people, including 110 passengers and 13 crew members.

 

Source: Al Jazeera