Russian plane with 44 missing in Indonesia (Lead)

May 9th, 2012 - 9:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Jakarta, May 9 (IANS) A Russian Sukhoi Superjet-100 on a demonstration flight over Indonesia with 44 people, including Russian diplomats, went missing Wednesday, officials said.

The plane with eight Russians and 36 foreign nationals disappeared in the area of Mount Salak, which is 7,254 feet high, said a spokesman of the aeronautical airspace control in Indonesia.

Darkness, fog and rain complicated the search for the plane, RIA Novosti reported.

Indonesian transport ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan told Xinhua that the plane took off from Indonesian air base Halim Perdana Kusuma in East Jakarta.

It lost contact at 2.25 p.m. while trying to descend from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet near a small airport in Bogor.

The official said there was no report of bad weather.

Other officials suggested the plane may have been hijacked or crashed into a mountain in poor visibility. By the time it was due to return, the plane should have burned up its fuel.

The Russian embassy in Jakarta said that in addition to the Russians, there were only Indonesians on board.

Shortly before radio contact was lost, 20 minutes after takeoff, the pilots had requested permission to descend from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet, air traffic controllers said.

After it was cleared for descent, the plane started turning right and descending but then disappeared from the radar screens at an altitude of 6,200 feet in a mountainous area 60 km from Jakarta.

The SSJ-100 carried out two demonstration flights in the Indonesian capital.

It arrived in Jakarta as part of a demonstration tour of six Asian countries. It has been to Myanmar, Pakistan and Kazakhstan and was due to visit Laos and Vietnam.

The Superjet 100 is a medium-haul passenger aircraft developed by Sukhoi in cooperation with US and European aviation corporations including Boeing, Snecma, Thales, Messier Dowty, Liebherr Aerospace and Honeywell.

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