JAYAPURA, Indonesia (AP) — A light commercial aircraft with nine people on board was reported missing Saturday in a mountainous region of Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua, with officials sending a search party toward a possible crash site.
Dimonin Air’s Swiss-made Pilatus PC-6 Porter plane was on an estimated 42-minute flight from Tanah Merah in Boven Digul district to Oksibil, the district capital of Pegunungan Bintang, bordering Papua New Guinea.
Local police chief Lt. Col. Michael Mumbunan said the plane with two pilots and seven passengers aboard lost contact after communicating with the control tower in Oksibil just before it was due to land Saturday afternoon.
He said a search was underway, but it would take rescuers hours to arrive at a suspected crash site where villagers reported they heard loud sounds and an explosion.
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A list of crew and passengers showed that one of the passengers was a child.
Airplanes are the only practical way of accessing many areas in the mountainous and jungle-clad easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation, with more than 260 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents on land, sea and air because of overcrowding on ferries, aging infrastructure and poorly enforced safety standards.