Friday, 21 August 2015

Indonesia concludes crashed plane recovery efforts

Indonesia’s search and rescue agency has concluded operations involving a plane that crashed in the mountains of eastern Papua, following the recovery of the 54 victims on board and the black box.

The bodies of all 54 people killed in a plane crash in eastern Indonesia have been recovered from a remote jungle site and flown to hospital, an official said yesterday. Authorities had initially hoped to use helicopters to transport the remains of last Sunday’s crash from the site in Papua province, but bad weather meant the bodies had to be carried on foot out of the jungle.

Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the agency’s chief, confirmed to Anadolu Agency on Friday that efforts had ended after the discovery Thursday of the flight data recorder that had been missing since the plane crashed last weekend.

Hundreds of locals and rescuers were involved in the arduous task of taking the bodies about 15km to the settlement of Oksibil, the intended destination of the Trigana Air plane.

Captain Beni Sumaryanto, Trigana Air’s service director of operations, said all the bodies had been recovered, and had now been flown on to the Papuan capital Jayapura.

“They are now in the police hospital at Jayapura for identification,” he said. “After that they will be given to the families.”

The ATR 42-300 plane had set off from Jayapura on what was supposed to be a 45-minute flight to Oksibil, but lost contact 10 minutes before landing as it sought to descend in heavy cloud and rain.

When rescuers reached the crash site two days later, they found the twin-turboprop aircraft in pieces scattered across a fire-blackened clearing, and the bodies of the 49 passengers and five crew who had been aboard.

"During the five days of operation, everyone worked professionally. Thanks to all team members," Soelistyo said.

He added that Disaster Victim Identification teams had begun to identify the recovered bodies.

As of early Friday, seven victims -- including a flight attendant and a postal worker who had been transporting around 6.5 billion rupiah ($470,000) to be distributed to the poor in the region -- had been identified, reported.

Tatang Kurniadi, National Committee on the Safety of Transport chief, told Anadolu Agency that they would prepare a preliminary report on the contents of the black box before submitting the recorders to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The report, however, will take between six months and one year to complete.

Benny Sumaryanto, Trigana Air Service director of operations, told Anadolu Agency that the legal heirs of each passenger would receive compensation worth 1.25 billion rupiah (almost $89,700).

"The compensation will be given for all passengers on board, including the crew," he said.

The flight crashed Sunday around 7 miles from an airport in Oksibil -- a remote settlement near the border with Papua New Guinea.

Ground rescuers had traipsed through thick vegetation in the Bintang Mountains Regency for recovery operations at the spot, which is at an altitude of around 2,529 meters (8,300 feet).

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Indonesian postal service said Friday that of the 6.5 rupiah billion being transported on the flight, only 5.8 billion rupiah had been recovered by search teams.

Abu Sofyan -- who like many Indonesians uses only one name -- was quoted by as saying that the missing cash was likely burnt, and adding that "surely no funds have been lost as it was all insured."

Friday 21 August 2015¨


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