Indonesian jet explodes on runway

President orders full investigation into latest deadly transport disaster.

    Officials say the jet overshot the runway
    as it came in to land [AFP]

    "I saw a foreigner. His clothes were on fire and I jumped from the emergency exit. Thank God I survived"

    Dien Syamsudin,
    survivor

    The Indonesian president has ordered a full investigation into the crash with government officials hinting that sabotage will be investigated as a possible cause of the crash.
     
    Andi Mallarangeng, a government spokesman, said investigators would look into possible "non-technical" causes.
     
    Al Jazeera correspondent Dan Nolan, who is in Yogyakarta, says several witnesses reported seeing one or more of the aircraft's tyres burst as it touched down.
     
    Bambang Susanto, Yogyakarta's provincial secretary, said the aircraft caught fire while landing.
     
    "It happened when it overshot beyond the runway and burst into flames," he told Reuters through mobile phone text messages.
     
    He said injured passengers were being treated at an air force hospital.
     
    Witnesses said it took firefighters two hours to extinguish the blaze.
     
    'Tragedy'
     
    Indonesian transport disasters

    2007
    February 22: About 50 people die in a fire on the Levina 1 ferry travelling between Jakarta and the island of Bangka

    January 16: Five killed and 100 injured in train derailment near Purwokerto in central Java

    January 1: An Adam Air Boeing 737 with 102 passengers and crew disappears near Polewali in Sulawesi.

    2006
    December 30: More than 400 people thought to have drowned when the Senopati Nusantara ferry sinks during a storm in the Java Sea

    April 15: 26 killed and 13 injured in collision between two trains on Java

    2005
    September 5: About 150 people die when a Mandala Airlines Boeing 737 crashes into houses on take off from Medan in north Sumatra

    1997
    September 26: All 234 passengers and crew die when a Garuda Airbus A300 crashes into a mountainside near Medan

    The Australian government has said it believes up to 10 of its citizens were on board, including several journalists.
     
    Peter Costello, the Australian finance minister, said the journalists were covering a visit by Alexander Downer, Australia's foreign minister, who is in Indonesia attending a regional counterterrorism conference.
     
    "Obviously it's a tragedy," he said.
     
    Downer himself was not on board the aircraft.
     
    Indonesia's Metro TV interviewed survivors, some of whom described the Garuda jet's landing as bouncing "like a ping-pong ball" before bursting into flames.
     
    The station reported that 96 people were successfully evacuated and that a nearby hospital was treating around 60 injured.
     
    "Before the plane landed it was shaking. Suddenly there was smoke inside the fuselage, it hit the runway and then it landed in a rice field," passenger Dien Syamsudin told local media.
     
    "I saw a foreigner. His clothes were on fire and I jumped from the emergency exit. Thank God I survived."
     
    Muhammad Dimyati, another survivor, told a local TV station that "before landing I felt the plane shake strongly".
     
    "We overshot the runway, then I heard the sound of an explosion and ran through an emergency exit," he said.
     
    "I believe many passengers remained trapped on board," he added.
     
    String of disasters
     
    Indonesia has been hit by a string of transportation disasters in recent months.
     
    In late December, a passenger ferry sank in a storm in the Java Sea, killing more than 400 people.
     
    Days later, a passenger plane operated by budget airline Adam Air crashed into the ocean, killing all 102 people on board.
     
    Last month at least 50 people died when another ferry caught fire shortly after leaving port in the capital, Jakarta.
     
    The government has said it is looking at banning local commercial airlines from operating planes more than 10 years old.
     
    However, most experts say proper maintenance and the number of takeoffs and landings are the critical factors in preventing accidents.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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