Wreckage of doomed Trigana Air Service spotted by aerial searchers | News | DW | 17.08.2015
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Wreckage of doomed Trigana Air Service spotted by aerial searchers

The Indonesia passenger plane lost with 54 aboard, which went down in the Indonesian province of Papua, has been spotted by a search plane. There has thus far been no official word on survivors or the cause of crash.

Indonesian rescue officials said Monday that search and rescue teams had identified the wreckage of the twin turboprop plane that disappeared in bad weather in the province of Papua.

"The crew of the Associated Mission Aviation plane reported seeing plane wreckage," local police chief Yunus Wally was quoted by the state Antara news agency.

This file photo Shows an ATR 42-300 similar to the one lost Aug. 16, 2015 in Indonesia's Papua province.

This file photo Shows an ATR 42-300 similar to the one lost Aug. 16, 2015 in Indonesia's Papua province.

The ATR 42-300 operated by Trigana Air had disappeared from the radar on Sunday just 10 minutes before its scheduled arrival at Oksibil in the mountainous Pegunungan Bintang district.

The Trigana Air Service plane had departed from Papua's provincial capital, Jayapura, for a short-haul flight.

Officials said the wreckage was spotted about 12 kilometers (7 miles) from its destination.

Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency, said search and rescue teams were preparing to try to reach the crash site by air and foot.

All those on the plane were Indonesian nationals, a National Search and Rescue Agency official said.

Treacherous mountainous terrain

Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains and some plane wrecks have never been found or recovered.

Dudi Sudibyo, an aviation analyst, said that Papua is particularly treacherous for air travel because of its mountainous terrain and rapidly changing weather patterns.

"I can say that a pilot who is capable of flying there will be able to fly an aircraft in any part of the world," he said.

Even so, due to the difficult terrain, air transport is commonly used in the region as land travel is often impractical. Search and rescue officials noted that a helicopter was lost in the same area last year due to bad weather.

"It's the weather there, it changes all the time,” Sito, a search and rescue official who goes by a single name, told news agency Reuters. “In the morning it can be clear and hot and then suddenly it rains."

Trigana has had 14 serious incidents since it began operations in 1991, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

Including this latest incident, it has written off 11 aircraft and is on the EU's blacklist which bars it from operating in European airspace.

jar/bw (AP, Reuters, dpa)