Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Jakarta has confirmed the sighting of the wreckage of the Indonesian Trigana Air plane, which crashed yesterday in Bintang mountain in the region of Papua. The ATR 42 turboprop belonged to the local company Trigana Air Service. It was carrying 54 people on board, including five crew members. Rescuers are trying to reach the area looking for survivors, but hopes of finding people alive - all the passengers were local nationals - fade with the passing of time.
The IL267 flight had taken off from Sentani in Jayapura, the capital of the eastern province of Papua, and was headed to Oksibil, again in Papua. The aircraft was experiencing strong turbulence when contact was lost.
Sentani is located below the equator in the southern hemisphere, about 5,400 km east of Jakarta. The area is very similar to the Amazon Basin in South America, with a dense flora and fauna, inhospitable, poorly adapted to humans and difficult to cross. In fact the Indonesian region of Papua and Papua New Guinea are among the areas most risky for air traffic.
Raymond Konstantin, coordinator of the rescue operation, reports that "the weather conditions were good at the start," but ten minutes before landing "dense clouds formed and the airport [where the plane was supposed to land] was no longer visible ". He adds that in the mountainous area, "the weather changes very quickly", representing a serious obstacle to air traffic.
In addition to the crew members and 49 passengers, including five children (two infants), four bags containing 6.5 billion rupees (about 470 thousand dollars) in government funds to the region were also crammed in the hold. The cash carried by postal officials, was destined for poor families of the area.
The Trigana Air is blacklisted by European airlines since 2007 and cannot fly in EU airspace because of doubts about its security measures and the regulatory environment in the country of registration. The company has had 14 serious accidents since its inception in 1991, including eight since 2002. However, since 2006 there have been no casualties in air accidents.