West Papua plane crash flight recorder found

Search team finds recorder along with more bodies from wreckage of plane which crashed into sea off Indonesian province.

    Officials said there were slim chances of finding survivors given the condition of the wreckage [EPA]

    A flight recorder and more bodies from a passenger plane that crashed into the sea off eastern Indonesia with 25 people on board have been found, search and rescue officials say.

    Efendi Rajaloa, chief of the local search and rescue agency, said the device from the Chinese-made Xian MA60 twin turboprop was found on Sunday in waters about 15m to 20m deep.

    At least 17 bodies were recovered on Saturday when the plane belonging to state-run Merpati Nusantara Airlines crashed in heavy rain in Kaimana Bay about 450m short of the runway at Kaimana's airport. It had come from Sorong, also in West Papua province.

    Four more bodies were recovered on Sunday and four were still missing, Imam Turidi, the airline spokesman, said.

    Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the transport ministry, confirmed the recovered box was a flight data recorder, adding that the voice data recorder had been located and that searchers could retrieve it on Monday.

    The two devices - the first fitted in the cabin and the second in the cockpit - are key to establishing the cause of the crash.

    Rajaloa said the 20 divers' efforts to pull bodies from the wreckage covered in thick mud had been hampered by limited visibility.

    The passengers included one child and two babies.

    Earlier, 27 people had been reported on board, but the company said on Sunday that two crewmen had been counted twice.

    Officials indicated that finding survivors was unlikely, given the condition of the wreckage.

    Air flight is the main transportation in Papua, the second biggest of Indonesia's more than 17,000 islands.

    The nation of 235 million people has been plagued by transport accidents in recent years - from plane and train crashes to ferry sinkings. Overcrowding, aging infrastructure and poor safety standards are often to blame.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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