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article imageRescuers rush to mountainous region to find Indonesia plane crash

By Nathan Salant     Aug 16, 2015 in Travel
Jayapura - Scores of emergency workers in Indonesia were rushing Sunday to the mountains of Papua province after a commercial flight was reported missing and villagers reported seeing a plane crash.
Fifty-four passengers and crew were aboard the Trigana Air Service jet when it took off Sunday from Sentani Airport in Jayapura in rainy and windy conditions for a short flight to Oksibil.
The airline sent a plane to look for the missing craft but the search was suspended due to darkness and limited visibility, according to the Reuters news service.
The search will resume Monday, Reuters said.
Indonesia Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said the plane, an ATR42-300 twin turboprop, lost contact with Oksibil's airport Sunday afternoon.
There was no distress call and no information on casualties or survivors was released, Reuters said.
Residents of Okbape village in Papua's Bintang district told authorities that they saw a plane flying low and then crashing into a mountain, an aviation official told Reuters.
The official, Susanto, head of Papua's search and rescue agency, said the area where the plane was seen is known for dense forests and steep cliffs.
Local media reported that all the plane's passengers, including two infants, are Indonesians.
The airline also did not immediately release a list of passengers, Reuters said.
An aviation analyst told Reuters that Papua was a dangerous place to fly because of rapidly changing weather patterns and mountainous terrain.
"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," Dudi Sudibyo said.
The reported accident comes as Asian carriers go through a troubling period of disasters, including the crash of an AirAsia jet with 162 people aboard in the Java Sea in December and the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and its 239 passengers and crew in March 2014.
Indonesian airlines were barred from landing in Europe from 2007 to 2009 because of safety concerns, Reuters said.
Trigana Air Service has been in operation since 1991 and serves 21 airports in Indonesia, Reuters said.
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