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Indonesian Plane With 54 Aboard Crashes In Remote Papua

A Trigana Air ATR-42 similar to the one missing in Indonesia's easternmost Papua province.
Bagus Indahono
A Trigana Air ATR-42 similar to the one missing in Indonesia's easternmost Papua province.

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

An Indonesian twin-turboprop plane carrying 54 passengers and crew reportedly crashed in the country's mountainous and densely wooded Papua province, according to the Transportation Ministry.

There was no distress call from the Trigana Air Service ATR42-300. A search plane spotted the wreckage on Monday morning, the Associated Press reports; there is not yet any word on whether there were any survivors.

Rescue officials told the wire association that the debris was spotted about 7 miles from the city of Oksibil, in the central part of the island (which also includes the independent state of Papua New Guinea). Search and rescue teams are attempting to reach the crash site by air and foot.

Villagers had earlier reported seeing a plane crash into a mountain, and a search for the wreckage began on Sunday before pausing overnight.

Local media said that the 49 passenger and five crew members aboard were all Indonesian.

The plane was en route from Papua's provincial capital, Jayapura, to Oksibil.

Michael Sullivan, reporting for NPR from Thailand, says: "The plane went missing as it was on its approach to land amid heavy rain, strong winds and heavy fog, according to Indonesian officials. Papua is among the most remote provinces in Indonesia — which has a checkered air safety record in recent years."

An AirAsia flight crashed in December after taking off from Surabaya, Indonesia, killing all 162 aboard.

The Associated Press quotes Susanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, as saying a plane was sent to look for the missing airliner, but that darkness and bad weather had caused the search to be pit on hold until morning. Later Transport Ministry officials confirmed the crash following reports from villagers of wreckage in Papua's Oktabe District.

Susanto said later that residents of Okbape village in Papua's Bintang district told authorities they saw a plane flying low before crashing into a mountain.

Reuters notes:

"Trigana has been on the EU blacklist of banned carriers since 2007. Airlines on the list are barred from operating in European airspace due to either concerns about its safety standards, or concerns about the regulatory environment in its country of registration. ...

"[The airline] has had 14 serious incidents since it began operations in 1991, according to the Aviation Safety Network's online database. Excluding this latest incident, it has written off 10 aircraft."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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