Many dead in Indonesian plane crash

Fifteen people have been killed after a light plane operated by the Indonesian police crashed into the sea off the remote Papua province.

    Rough terrain in Indonesia can affect light planes

    An

    airport official said t

    he plane, carrying 18 passengers and crew, slammed into

    waters near an airport at the coastal town of Sarmi in fine

    weather just before its scheduled landing on Tuesday.

    Airport official Bela Hafni

    said three people survived but are in

    critical

    condition.

    "Five minutes before it was expected to land, the pilot

    contacted us. Suddenly, within seconds, the plane fell 500m

    before the runway," Hafni said from

    Sarmi, 3600km east of Jakarta.

    "When the pilot contacted us, he reported there was an

    engine problem," Hafni said, adding the pilot was among the

    dead.

    Police among dead

    The survivors have been transported to the Papua provincial

    capital Jayapura.

    The wreckage of the plane now lies in pieces near the shore

    off Sarmi.

    "Five minutes before it was expected to land, the pilot

    contacted us. Suddenly, within seconds, the plane fell 500m

    before the runway"

    Bela Hafni,
    Sarmi airport official

    Several of the dead passengers were police officers,

    a police spokesman said.

    There are periodic plane crashes in Indonesia, the world's

    largest archipelago, where bad weather and rough terrain can

    create hazardous conditions, especially for light planes.

    Indonesia's worst air disaster occurred in 1997 when a

    Garuda Indonesia Airbus A300-B4 crashed in a mountainous area

    on the island of Sumatra in poor visibility, killing all 234

    people on board.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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