New hope of survivors in Indonesia plane crash

MEDAN — The mother of a passenger aboard a plane that crashed in a remote area of Indonesia said Friday her daughter had called her, raising hopes of finding survivors as rescuers struggled to reach the site.

By (AFP)

Published: Fri 30 Sep 2011, 6:49 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:09 AM

Search and rescue teams had been unable to reach the accident site in a mountainous area of Sumatra island by Friday afternoon, more than 30 hours after the plane carrying 18 people crashed.

Rosmawati, the mother of passenger Samsidar Yusni, 27, said her daughter had called her Thursday night.

“At 10:00 pm, my daughter telephoned me. She just cried. Her words were so unclear. After that the line was lost and the telephone disconnected,” Rosmawati said.

The Casa 212 turboprop plane, carrying 14 passengers including four children, and four crew, went down on Thursday after departing Medan city, in Sumatra, for the nearby province of Aceh.

But the commercial flight run by Nusantara Buana Air sent a distress signal soon after and crashed at 1,100 metres (3,600 feet) in the mountainous Bohorok area about 70 kilometres (40 miles) northwest of Medan.

Three search-and-rescue teams left Medan Thursday night but two had turned back because of the difficult mountainous jungle terrain and bad weather Friday.

Hopes for survivors were raised Friday morning when rescue team members reported that a door on the plane had visibly been opened since initial observation Thursday.

“The rescue teams left Medan last night by truck and got as close to the site as possible and then set out on foot. They slept in the jungle last night. It’s at least a six-hour journey,” head of national search-and-rescue Laksamana Daryatmo told AFP.

The plane was caught by the forest canopy, where it remains largely intact.

Transport ministry aviation head Herry Bakti said no one had ever tried to reach that part of Bohorok, so it was unclear how long the journey would take.

“There are no roads, just cliffs and mountains. It is a very difficult place to reach,” he said. “I am hopeful they can make it today.”

New photos taken from helicopters show both of the plane’s wings had been clipped and the nose destroyed.

Helicopters have hovered above the forest site but have no where to land and have also been stalled by bad weather.

Nusantara Buana regularly runs commercial flights in Sumatra. The airline has six aircraft in its fleet, according to the independent CAPA Centre for Aviation.

The downed plane is a 1989 model that has flown more than 11,000 hours. Bakti said that the aircraft’s last inspection was in November 2010.

The company, however, told news website that the plane had undergone a routine check on September 22.

“When the aircraft left it was in airworthy condition,” Nusantara Buana safety manager Robur Rizallianto said Thursday.

The plane’s manufacturer, Airbus Military, said in a statement: “Any speculation on what happened would be premature.”

Nusantara Buana Air is on a blacklist of airlines banned from flying in the European Union because of inadequate safety measures.

The vast Indonesian archipelago relies heavily on air transport and has a poor aviation record.

The incident is Indonesia’s fourth serious air crash in he past month.

A helicopter chartered by US giant Newmont Mining crashed on Sunday in central Indonesia, killing two people on board.

Earlier this month, an Australian and a Slovak pilot were killed when their small Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft, which was carrying fuel and food to a remote area in Papua province, went down.

Another small aircraft, which was also transporting supplies to remote villages for a Christian humanitarian association in Papua, crashed last week, killing its American pilot and two passengers.

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