Indonesian military plane crash kills 97 (Third Lead)

May 20th, 2009 - 5:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Jakarta, May 20 (DPA) At least 97 people were killed when an Indonesian military plane with more than 100 people on board crashed Wednesday into a residential neighbourhood in East Java province, the military said.
Nineteen people were also injured when the Hercules C-130 crashed in Magetan district while on a regular flight to the country’s easternmost province of Papua from the capital, Jakarta, hospital staff said.

The deaths included three people who were killed on the ground, said Captain Kodir, an officer at the Iswahyudi Air Force Base in Madiun near the crash site.

“So far, data shows 97 have been killed, but we are still trying to ascertain the exact number,” said Kodir, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

East Java military commander Major General Suwarno said 112 people were on board the plane - 98 passengers - including 10 children - and 14 crew.

Witnesses said they heard explosions as the plane crashed into houses about 6.20 a.m. (2320 GMT Tuesday) 7 kilometres west of Madiun.

“I heard two explosions, and the plane burst into flames,” a resident identified only as Tofa told Metro TV.

Television footage showed the plane split in two and black smoke billowing into the sky from its burning fuselage and partly intact tail section located in a rice field.

Witnesses said the plane was shaking and one of its wings was stripped away before it plummeted to the ground. Charred bodies were scattered in the surrounding rice paddy and nearby bushes.

Air force spokesman Bambang Sulistyo said among the dead was a high-ranking commander in Papua province, First Marshal Harsono, and his wife, the Kompas.com news portal reported.

The commander of the Madiun Air Force base, Air Marshal Bambang Samudra, said earlier that a total of 105 victims had been recovered, including 15 injured survivors.

He said efforts were under way to evacuate several other people who remained trapped.

A nurse at Madiun’s Iswahyudi hospital said several of the 19 victims brought there suffered serious injuries.

“Some of them were unconscious when they arrived here in this hospital,” said the nurse who gave her name as Sumringah.

Transport Minister Djusman Syafii Jamal said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had ordered the air force to investigate the cause of the accident.

The plane was on a routine delivery flight to Papua with stopovers scheduled in Madiun, Makassar in South Sulawesi and Ambon in Maluku province, Bambang Sulistyo said.

It was the second fatal accident involving an Indonesian Air Force plane in recent weeks. On April 6, a Fokker F-27 crashed and burst into flames in West Java’s capital, Bandung, killing all 24 officers on board.

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