Thursday 8 December 2016

Dozens dead in Indonesia air crash

Published 30/06/2015 | 14:47

The scene of the crash in a residential area of the city of Medan, Indonesia (AP)
The scene of the crash in a residential area of the city of Medan, Indonesia (AP)
Firefighters and military personnel inspect the site where an air force cargo plane crashed in Medan, Indonesia (AP)
People view the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia. Reuters/Irsan Mulyadi/Antara Foto
A propeller from an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane rests on the roof of a building after the plane crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia. Reuters/Roni Bintang
Security forces and rescue teams examine the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia. Reuters/Roni Bintang
Security forces examine the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia. Reuters/Roni Bintang
Security forces and rescue teams examine the the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia. Reuters/Roni Bintang
Security forces and rescue teams examine the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia. Reuters/Roni Bintang
Security forces and rescue teams remove the bodies of victims from the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia. Reuters/Irsan Mulyadi/Antara Foto
Security forces and rescue teams remove the bodies of victims from the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia. Reuters/Irsan Mulyadi/Antara Foto
Security forces and residents examine the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia. Reuters/Roni Bintang
A soldier examines a crushed vehicle next to the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia. Reuters/Roni Bintang
Indonesian security forces and firefighters search through the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia. Reuters/Roni Bintang

An Indonesian air force transport plane has ploughed into a residential area in the country's third-largest city of Medan shortly after take-off, killing dozens of people.

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A total of 49 bodies have been recovered, according to hospital officials.

Television footage showed the mangled wreckage of the C-130 Hercules, a crumpled burning car and a shattered building that local media said contained a spa and homes. Smoke billowed from the site and several thousand people milled nearby.

The plane's manifest showed it was carrying 50 people, according to North Sumatra police chief Eko Hadi Sutedjo, but the actual number might be higher.

Air force chief Air Marshall Agus Supriatna said there were 12 crew and more than 100 passengers on the plane before it reached Medan on Sumatra, one of Indonesia's main islands. It had travelled from the capital, Jakarta, and stopped at two locations before arriving at Medan.

Many passengers were families of military personnel. Hitching rides on military planes to reach remote destinations is common in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago that spans three time zones.

Indonesia has a patchy aviation safety record. Between 2007 and 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.

The country's most recent civilian airline disaster was in December, when an AirAsia jet with 162 people on board crashed into the Java Sea en route from Surabaya to Singapore.

There have been five fatal crashes involving air force planes since 2008, according to the Aviation Safety Network, which tracks aviation disasters.

The crash of the transport plane, which had been in service since 1964, occurred just two minutes after it took off from Soewondo air force base.

Air Marshall Supriatna said the pilot told the control tower that the plane needed to turn back because of engine trouble.

He said: "The plane crashed while it was turning right to return to the airport."

Medan resident Fahmi Sembiring said he saw the grey Hercules flying very low.

"Flames and black smoke were coming from the plane in the air," he said.

Mr Sembiring said he stopped not far from the crash site and saw several people rescued by police, security guards and bystanders.

Another man, Janson Halomoan Sinagam, said several of his relatives were on the plane when it left Medan headed for the remote Natuna island chain.

"We just want to know their fate," he told MetroTV, weeping. "But we have not yet received any information from the hospital."

The accident is the second time in 10 years that a plane has crashed into a Medan area. In September 2005, a Mandala Airlines Boeing 737 crashed into a crowded residential community shortly after take-off from Medan's Polonia airport, killing 143 people including 30 on the ground.

Medan, which has a population of about 3.4 million people, is the third most populous city in Indonesia after Jakarta and Surabaya.

Press Association

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