Up to 27 people were believed to be dead after a passenger plane crashed into the sea in eastern Indonesia on Saturday, officials said, the latest in a long series of transportation accidents in the archipelago nation.
The Chinese-made Xian MA60 propeller plane operated by Merpati Nusantara Airlines slammed into the sea with 21 passengers and 6 crew members aboard while trying to land amid rain and limited visibility in the remote province of West Papua in the afternoon, said Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry. He said the plane crashed about 500 yards from the end of the runway. “Looking at the conditions there, we’re not expecting any survivors,” he said.
Rescuers, including local military units, that have been scouring nearby waters have been hampered by rough weather, said Suyatno, the head of the National Search and Rescue Agency in neighboring Papua Province. He said 15 bodies had been found. Ferry, train and plane accidents occur often in Indonesia, which sprawls across 17,000 islands. Poor maintenance, lax safety standards and corruption are blamed for many of them.