|Hunt: Indonesian search and rescue agencies are hunting for a Trigana passenger plane (similar to the one pictured) that went missing over the remote eastern Papua region, with 54 people on board|
Indonesian search and rescue agencies are hunting for a passenger plane that went missing in bad weather over the remote eastern region of Papua, with 54 people on board. The plane, flight number TGN267, failed to arrive at its destination of Oksibil after contact was lost with the plane, according to the National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS).
According to the agency's official Twitter account the domestic aircraft, belonging to the Indonesian Trigana Air Service, was carrying 44 adult passengers, five crew and five children and infants. But the search efforts are being hindered by stormy weather over the mountainous and remote region, and have been suspended until the morning.
|Search area: The plane took off from Sentani airport in the region's capital Jayapura on a flight to Oksibil, located south of the city, but failed to arrive at its destination|
The Trigana Air ATR 42-300 turboprop plane took off from Sentani airport in the region's capital Jayapura on a flight to Oksibil, located south of the city. Oksibil is a remote settlement in the mountains, which is only accessible by plane. But the plane is reported to have lost contact 33 minutes after take-off, just before 3.00pm (6.00am GMT). The flight between Sentani airport and Oksibil should take around 45 minutes.
Just 10 minutes before it was due to land, the missing plane contacted Oksibil control tower asking to descend, according to Captain Beni Sumaryanto, Trigana Air’s service director of operations. But the plane never arrived.
Half an hour later, Trigana Air sent another turboprop plane over the same route to look for the missing aircraft.
‘But the weather was very bad, it could not find it and the plane was turned back to Sentani,’ he added.
‘Oksibil is a mountainous area where weather is very unpredictable. It can suddenly turn foggy, dark and windy without warning. ‘We strongly suspect it’s a weather issue. It is not overcapacity, as the plane could take 50 passengers.’
Transport ministry spokesman J.A. Barata confirmed the plane had lost contact and said it was supposed to arrive at Oksibil airport just after 3:00 pm. 'We are not sure what happened to the plane yet and we are coordinating with local authorities,' he told AFP. 'The weather is currently very bad there, it's very dark and cloudy. It's not conducive for a search. The area is mountainous.'
|Treacherous: Indonesia's Papua region is a mountainous area where weather is extremely unpredictable, according to Trigana officials. The rescue efforts have been hindered by continuing bad weather and suspended until the morning|
|Dense: The area where the plane went missing is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed there in the past have never been found|
The weather was poor near Oksibil, with heavy rain, strong winds and fog, when the plane lost contact with the airport nine minutes before it was scheduled to land, said Susanto, the head of Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency.
A plane was sent to look for the missing airliner, but the search was later suspended due to darkness, said Susanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. The search operation will continue Monday morning, he said.
- Daily Mail