09/05/2005, 00.00
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Jetliner crashes into Indonesian city; all 117 aboard feared killed

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Jp) - Minister of Transportation Hatta Radjasa has said that all 117 passengers of a Mandala airlines aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff from Polonia Airport in Medan, North Sumatra were feared dead. The plane, operated by local carrier Mandala Airlines, crashed into a residential area in the city of Medan., capital of North Sumatra province. Hospital officials in the city said some of the dead were residents on the ground.

"This is the worst airlines incident in our country in the last five years," Hatta said.

The minister, however, said the government had not received yet data on the number of dead victims while the cause of crash remained unclear.

North Sumatra Governor Rizal Nurdin and a former North Sumatra governor, Raja Inal Siregar, were on the flight. They were heading to Jakarta for talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Smoke billowed from the burning debris and dozens of houses and at least 10 cars were in flames or damaged. Hundreds of policemen, paramedics and residents were trying to evacuate victims.

Medan is Indonesia's third biggest city and is also the main gateway for aid into tsunami-hit Aceh province.

Mandala Airlines is one of Indonesia's oldest private carriers. Indonesia's worst air crash occurred in Sept. 1997, when a Garuda Airbus A-300B4 crashed in a mountainous area near Medan, killing all 222 passengers and 12 crew on board.

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