A plane carrying 32 people has crashed in the South Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea with an unknown number of casualties, Australian media reported.

The Airlines PNG Dash 8 aircraft crashed while flying from Lae to Madang on the South Pacific island nation's north coast, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation [ABC] said from the country's capital, Port Moresby.

Sid O'Toole, the country's Accident Investigation Commission spokesman, said there were 32 people on board when the twin-propellor plane crashed 20km south of Madang, ABC reported.

Police and ambulances had reached the crash site and investigators would travel there on Friday, O'Toole said.

"All I can tell you is there have been reports of survivors and there have been reports of fatalities," O'Toole said. But he did not confirm the number of survivors.

The Australian Associated Press news agency said most of the passengers were parents traveling to attend their children's university graduation ceremony in Madang this weekend.

ABC television cited Madang residents as saying there was a violent storm in the area at the time of the crash.

Phone calls to national police headquarters in Port Moresby and the Civil Aviation Authority went unanswered.

The Dash 8 is a series of twin-engined, medium-range, turboprop airliners. Introduced by De Havilland Canada in 1984, they are now made by Bombardier Aerospace.

Source: Agencies