Searchers spot wreckage of missing Indonesia passenger plane

Indonesia Loses Contact With Plane Carrying 54 People

JAYAPURA, Indonesia (AP) -- A search plane has spotted the wreckage of an Indonesian passenger plane that went missing with 54 people onboard, rescue officials said Monday.

There was no immediate word if there were any survivors from the crash, which happened in bad weather on Sunday in Indonesia's mountainous easternmost province of Papua.

The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Papua's provincial capital, Jayapura, to the Papua city of Oksibil when it lost contact with Oksibil's airport. Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said there was no indication that the pilot had made a distress call.

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Indonesia plane crashes, 54 aboard
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Searchers spot wreckage of missing Indonesia passenger plane
Indonesian rescuers search through wreckage of the Trigana Air ATR 42-300 twin-turboprop plane at the crash site in the mountainous area of Oksibil on August 18, 2015. A plane that crashed in eastern Indonesia was found on August 18 'completely destroyed' with the bodies of all 54 passengers and crew strewn amid the wreckage in a fire-blackened jungle clearing, officials said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Indonesian rescuers hold wreckage fragments from the Trigana Air ATR 42-300 twin-turboprop plane from the crash site in the mountainous area of Oksibil on August 18, 2015. A plane that crashed in eastern Indonesia was found on August 18 'completely destroyed' with the bodies of all 54 passengers and crew strewn amid the wreckage in a fire-blackened jungle clearing, officials said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - AUGUST 17: Operational Deputy of Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) Heronimus Guru speaks about Trigana Air ATR 42 plane shortly during a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, 17 August 2015. Searchers spotted what was believed to be the wreckage of a plane that went missing with 54 people on board in Indonesia's remote Papua province. The ATR 42 operated by Trigana Air disappeared from the radar on 16 August, just 10 minutes before its scheduled arrival at Oksibil in the mountainous Pegunungan Bintang district. (Photo by Wawan Kurniawan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - AUGUST 17: Operational Deputy of Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) Heronimus Guru shows a picture of the suspected crash site of a Trigana Air ATR 42 plane shortly after a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, on August 17, 2015. Searchers spotted what was believed to be the wreckage of a plane that went missing with 54 people on board in Indonesia's remote Papua province. The ATR 42 operated by Trigana Air disappeared from the radar on 16 August, just 10 minutes before its scheduled arrival at Oksibil in the mountainous Pegunungan Bintang district. (Photo by Wawan Kurniawan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - AUGUST 16: Indonesia's Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan (L2) speaks during a press conference in Jakarta on August 16, 2015, announcing that a missing plane carrying 54 people crashed into a mountain in eastern Indonesian province of Papua. Indonesian authorities say a plane that went missing earlier Sunday with 54 passengers on board has been found after it crashed into mountains in eastern Papua. (Photo by Wawan Kurniawan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Indonesian relatives submit information to police forensic personnel at a crisis center set up in Jayapura on August 17, 2015 following the crash of a Trigana Air ATR 42-300 twin-turboprop plane the day before. Rescuers raced on August 17 to reach debris in remote eastern Indonesian mountains believed to be from the plane that crashed carrying 54 people and cash worth almost half a million USD. AFP PHOTO / BIMA SAKTI (Photo credit should read BIMA SAKTI/AFP/Getty Images)
JAYAPURA, INDONESIA - AUGUST 17 : Relatives of passengers onboard the missing Trigana Air plane wait for news search at crisis centre in Sentani Airport, Jayapura, Indonesia, on August 17, 2015. Trigana ATR 42 aircraft carrying 54 peoples, lost contact with air traffic control after taking off from, Papua, Indonesia's eastern province. (Photo by Sakhiy Rifano/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - AUGUST 16: Indonesia's Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan (L) speaks during a press conference in Jakarta on August 16, 2015, announcing that a missing plane carrying 54 people crashed into a mountain in eastern Indonesian province of Papua. Indonesian authorities say a plane that went missing earlier Sunday with 54 passengers on board has been found after it crashed into mountains in eastern Papua. (Photo by Wawan Kurniawan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Officials said the wreckage was spotted about 12 kilometers (7 miles) from Oksibil, and Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency, said search and rescue teams were preparing to try to reach the crash site by air and foot.

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on a scheduled 42-minute journey, Barata said. Five children, including two infants, were among the passengers.

Search planes went into the air early Monday after residents of a village not far from Oksibil told local police that they saw a plane flying low before crashing into a mountain, said Ludiyanto, who heads the search and rescue operation from Jayapura.

Ludiyanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said that rugged, forested terrain and bad weather were hindering the search.

Local media reports said all the passengers are Indonesians. The airline has not released a passenger manifest.

Oksibil, which is 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Jayapura, was experiencing heavy rain, strong winds and fog when the plane lost contact with the airport minutes before it was scheduled to land, said Susanto, the head of Papua's search and rescue agency.

Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed in the past have never been found.

Dudi Sudibyo, an aviation analyst, said that Papua is a particularly dangerous place to fly because of its mountainous terrain and rapidly changing weather patterns. "I can say that a pilot who is capable of flying there will be able to fly an aircraft in any part of the world," he said.

European plane maker ATR said in a statement late Sunday that it "acknowledges the reported loss of contact" with the Trigana flight "and is standing by to support the relevant aviation authorities."

ATR, based in Toulouse, France, makes regional planes with 90 seats or less.

Indonesia has had its share of airline woes in recent years. The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asia's most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.

From 2007 to 2009, the European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe because of safety concerns.

Last December, all 162 people aboard an AirAsia jet were killed when the plane plummeted into the Java Sea as it ran into stormy weather on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, to Singapore.

That disaster was one of five suffered by Asian carriers in a 12-month span, including Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which went missing in March 2014 with 239 people aboard during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Trigana Air Service, which commenced operations in 1991, had 22 aircraft as of December 2013 and flies to 21 destinations in Indonesia.

Earlier on AOL.com:

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