A plane from Indonesian carrier Trigana Air Service that went missing in the remote Papua region, has been found. Flight TGN267 – a twin turboprop plane – was carrying 54 people.
The ATR 42-300 plane was flying between Jayapura's Sentani Airport and Oksibil, due south of Jayapura, the capital of Papua province. The National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) chief Bambang Soelystyo told Reuters that it, "lost contact with plane," 33 minutes after it took off, prompting a helicopter search effort, which was suspended as night fell.
Indonesia's transport minister told reporters the vessel had been located by villagers in the Bintang highlands region of Oksibil, where the plane was supposed to land. The villagers told authorities that the plane had crashed into a mountain. Weather in Oksibil was reportedly poor and it was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog as the plane lost contact with the airport just minutes before it was scheduled to land.
"The plane has been found by villagers. According to residents, the flight had crashed into a mountain. Verification is still in process," said the transport ministry's director-general of air transportation, Suprasetyo. A government spokesman said there was no evidence of a distress call.
The aircraft belonging to Trigana Air was carrying 44 adult and five children and infants as passengers, and five crew members, according to the official BASARNAS Twitter account. Indonesia has a poor safety record and a number of its airlines, including Trigana Air, feature on the European Union's list of banned carriers from the continent's airspace.
Last year an AirAsia flight carrying 162 people from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore crashed just 40 minutes into its flight, killing everyone on board. The incident prompted the government to introduce more stringent air safety regulations.
The Jakarta Post has published the names of the 49 passengers on board the aircraft. It is not yet known if there are any survivors.