An Indonesian domestic passenger plane carrying 54 people has crashed in Papua, a transportation ministry official has confirmed.
The official said that the Trigana plane that went missing in the Papua province with 54 people on board has been found by local villagers.
There were no reports yet of any survivors.
Flight TGN267 had been missing for several hours on Sunday after losing contact with air traffic control at around 0600 GMT in the eastern part of Indonesia. It was flying between Jayapura’s Sentani airport and Oksibil, the capital of Papua province.
Air transportation director General Suprasetyo said: “The aircraft that lost contact has been found at Camp 3, Ok Bape district in the Bintang Mountains regency,” adding that residents had provided information that the aircraft crashed into Tangok mountain.
President Joko Widodo tweeted his condolences to the victims of the accident. “Let us pray together,” he said.
On his Facebook page, Mr Joko posted a report from the minister of transport. It said according to Ludi, the head of the search and rescue agency in the Papuan provincial capital of Jayapura, the missing flight had been located at camp three in the Ogbape district of the Bingang mountain regency.
“Locals have informed us that the flight crashed on to Mount Tangok,” the update said. Evacuation teams from the natural disaster mitigating agency, along with army officers and police personnel from Oksibil were on their way to the accident scene, it said.
A team from BASARNAS would work with the army to search for the crash site, with the operation coordinated from the Jayapura air force base.
The plane left Jayapura’s Sentani Airport for Oksibil, the capital of Papua province due south of Jayapura, at 2.33pm and lost contact at 2.55pm.
Ten minutes before it was due to land, the plane contacted Oksibil control tower asking to descend, Captain Beny Sumaryanto, Trigana Air’s service director of operations, said.
But the plane never arrived. Half an hour later, Trigana Air sent another turboprop plane over the same route to look for the missing aircraft, he said.
“We strongly suspect it’s a weather issue. It is not overcapacity, as the plane could take 50 passengers,” Sumaryanto said.
Mr Barata confirmed the plane had lost contact and said it was supposed to arrive at Oksibil airport just after 4pm.
“We are not sure what happened to the plane yet and we are co-ordinating with local authorities,” he said.
“The weather is currently very bad there, it’s very dark and cloudy. It’s not conducive for a search. The area is mountainous.”
The agency’s Jayapura office coordinated an earlier search, a separate tweet read as dusk fell in the tropics.
Papua police spokesman Patridge Renwarin told detik.com that police and the Indonesian army sent response teams after locals reported seeing a plane crash in Bape village in the Bintang mountains in Oksibil.
Air transport is commonly used in Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost province, where land travel is often impossible.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, an online database, the ATR 42-300 had its first flight 27 years ago. ATR is a joint venture between Airbus and Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Italian aerospace firm Finmeccanica.
Airline blacklisted in Europe
Trigana has been on the EU blacklist of banned carriers since 2007. Airlines on the list are barred from operating in European airspace due to either concerns about its safety standards, or concerns about the regulatory environment in its country of registration.