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Indonesia confirms plane crash in Papua

Hadi Juraid, Transport Ministry Spokesman, said search and rescue teams on Tuesday found all 54 bodies in the wreckage of a plane that crashed at the weekend in Indonesia’s Papua province.

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He said in Jakarta that the ATR 42-300 aircraft operated by Trigana Air Service crashed on Sunday, just 10 minutes before its scheduled arrival at Oksibil in the mountainous Pegunungan Bintang district.

Juraid said if the weather was favourable, the bodies would be immediately evacuated and handed over to the affected families once they were identified.

Julius Barata, another Transport Ministry official, said the aircraft’s flight data and voice recorders, known as black boxes, were also found.

He said the recorders would be handed over to the National Transport Safety Committee for investigation.

Search Chief Bambang Sulistyo said the plane was totally destroyed and many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition.

He said earlier attempts by rescue workers to reach the location had been hampered by mountainous terrain and bad weather.

FX Haryono, the Head of the Jayapura post office, said the plane was on a 55-minute flight from the provincial capital Jayapura to Oksibil.

He said four of the passengers were post office workers carrying 468,000 dollars in cash.

Haryono said the money was to be distributed to families in Pegunungan Bintang under a government social welfare scheme.

Critics said Papua relies heavily on air transport because of limited road networks through its jungle.

They said the crash was the third major air accident in Indonesia in eight months.

They recalled that on Dec. 28, AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea off Borneo midway from Surabaya to Singapore, killing all 162 people on board.

Also in June at least 141 people were killed after an Indonesian Air Force C-130 plane crashed into a residential area in Medan, North Sumatra and burst into flames.

They said the frequent crashes were likely to raise more questions about the country’s aviation safety.

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