An Indonesian police plane carrying 15 people has reportedly crashed into the sea, the state-run Antara news agency reports. The plane lost contact while en route from Pangkal Pinang to Batam Island, south of Singapore.
The two-engine aircraft, which took off from Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka around 9:30 a.m. local time (0230 UTC), is likely to have crashed somewhere between the islands of Mensanak and Sebangka or Gentar, off the coast of Sumatra, the Indonesian police said Saturday.
The M28 Skytruck plane lost contact with air traffic control during what was supposed to be a 1.5 hour flight.
The plane was carrying five crew members and eight passengers, who are all believed to have died in the crash.
A search team reportedly recovered items belonging to the missing aircraft, including police uniforms, seats, luggage and documents.
Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) also confirmed items belonging to the passengers had been found.
"We found debris," BASARNAS head Henry Bambang Soelistyo told the Reuters news agency, adding that his team was searching for the plane in a 200 square nautical mile area.
According to a statement from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), the Indonesian police aircraft's last known position was about 40 nautical miles southeast of Tanjung Pinang.
"With clearance from the Indonesian authorities, one SuperPuma helicopter and one Fokker 50 are currently on-scene supporting the Indonesians to locate the aircraft," the CAAS said. "Two ships are awaiting clearance by the Indonesian authorities to assist in the search and rescue efforts."
shs/jlw (Reuters, dpa, AP)