JAYAPURA, Indonesia – A small plane carrying 9 people went missing on Saturday, August 11, during a short flight in mountainous eastern Indonesia, authorities said, with a search and rescue mission underway.
The Swiss-made Pilatus aircraft lost contact with air traffic control during what was supposed to be a flight of around 40 minutes in remote Papua province, police said.
"Villagers in Okatem reported that they heard a loud roar from the plane followed by a big explosion," Bintang regency police chief Michael Mumbunan told Agence France-Presse.
Search and rescue teams have been deployed but it will take them up to 3 hours to reach the suspected crash site by foot, he added.
The plane was carrying 7 passengers, including a child, and two crew.
It belonged to Dimonim Air, a private company operating charter flights in and around Papua.
Indonesia relies heavily on air transport to connect its thousands of islands, but has a poor aviation safety record and has suffered several fatal crashes in recent years.
Papua is a particularly difficult area to reach.
Five people died after a small plane crashed near Wamena in Papua province in July last year.
In August 2015, a commercial passenger aircraft operated by Indonesian carrier Trigana crashed in Papua due to bad weather, killing all 54 people on board. – Rappler.com