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Indonesian Authorities Spot Wreckage Thought To Be Of Missing Plane

Indonesian authorities have spotted a wreckage, which they believe belongs to a missing Trigana Air Service turboprop plane, in a remote area of Papua.

The Financial Times reports:

"Search and rescue aircraft spotted the wreck in the Bintang Mountains, according to Reuters, and are heading to the site to look for any survivors.

"'The area is steep and is covered by dense forests,' Teguh Pudji Rahardjo, Papua military spokesman, told Agence France-Presse. 'There is no road, no access at all.'

"The Trigana twin-turboprop ATR 42-300 took off from Jayapura-Sentani airport at 2.20pm local time on Sunday heading for Oksibil, near the site of the wreckage. It had five crew members on board and last made contact about 10 minutes before it was due to land."

The Associated Press reports the plane was carrying 54 people as well as $468,750 in cash, which was going to be distributed to poor people as government fuel aid.

The wire service adds:

"[Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency] said elite forces from the air force and army will build a helipad for evacuation purposes near the crash site. Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed in the past have never been found.

"Search planes went into the air early Monday after residents of a village not far from Oksibil told local police that they saw a plane flying low before crashing into a mountain, said Ludiyanto, who heads the search and rescue operation from Jayapura.

"The airline's crisis center official in Jayapura's Sentani airport, Budiono, said all the passengers are Indonesians and there were nine names on the initial passenger manifest were eventually replaced by other persons — a common practice among small domestic airlines in the country."

Note that many Indonesians use only one name.

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

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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