Search and rescue

Rescue and search teams hiked through heavy rain and slippery forest paths on Tuesday in search of the Boeing 737 that disappeared with 102 people on board.

 

The aircraft sent distress signals halfway through its two-hour flight from Indonesia's main island of Java to Sulawesi, in the northeast of the archipelago.

 

More than half of the aircraft’s flight path was over the Java Sea, the Maluku Sea and other smaller waters, but most of the focus was over land.

 

The search has since been called off due to bad light, but will continue at dawn and is expected to include the Malakka Strait off Sulawesi's western coast.

 

Erroneous reports

 

"Everything was in order, the condition of the plane was good"

Ichsan Tatang, national aviation chief

Bambang Karnoyudo, the head of the National Search and Rescue Agency said that false reports had originally reached Indonesia's highest aviation officials from a local police chief who received information from a village chief.

 

Descriptions of the crash site were vivid, with officials saying 90 corpses and debris from the plane were scattered over a 300 metre area of forests and jagged cliffs.

 

The report suggested that a dozen people may have survived, bringing anguish and hope to waiting relatives.

 

Karnoyudo said: "Once he went to check for himself he found it was not true," referring to the local police chief.

 

The accident followed weeks of seasonal rains and high winds in Indonesia, which have caused deadly floods, landslides and maritime accidents, including the sinking of a ferry in the Java Sea on Friday, in which more than 400 people died or went missing.

 

Ichsan Tatang, Indonesia's air transport director
Hundreds of people gathered at Manado airport, the aircraft's destination, upset and angry with officials amid conflicting reports of the crash.

 

Budget travel concerns

 

Adam Air is one of at least a dozen budget carriers that have emerged in the country since 1999, when the industry was deregulated.

 

The rapid expansion has led to cheap flights to scores of destinations around the country, but has raised some safety concerns, since maintenance on the leased aircraft is reportedly poor.

 

Ichsan Tatang, the national aviation chief, said that the aircraft involved was 17 years old, had flown 45,371 hours and passed its last inspection on December 25.

 

“It was too early to speculate on the cause of the crash,” he said.

 

“Everything was in order, the condition of the plane was good,”