Plane carrying sixteen people vanishes over Papua, Indonesia

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Monday, August 3, 2009

An Air Seychelles DHC-300 Twin Otter
Image: Tribalninja.

A plane carrying sixteen people has vanished over Papua, Indonesia. The Twin Otter propeller-driven aircraft has a crew of three and thirteen passengers, two of whom are babies.

The plane, which belonged to Merpati Nusantara Airlines, was travelling from Sentani Airport, Jayapura, Papua to Oksibil, a town near the Papua New Guinean border. The journey normally takes fifty minutes and only three hours and thirty minutes worth of fuel was on board. It is believed the aircraft has crashed.

Both transportation authorities and the military have launched bids to locate the missing plane, with at least two aircraft taking off to search for the aircraft. However, poor weather conditions have forced these aircraft to return to land.

The plane was over a mountainous area covered with dense forest when air traffic control lost contact. "We're focusing our search on the border between [the] Kerom and Pegunungan Bintang districts... it's a mountainous, jungly region," said air force commander Suwandi Miharja, who is in charge of the search. Aircraft lost in this region have sometimes never been located after suspected crashes.