Indonesian police plane crashes with 15 on board

An Indonesian Navy boat searching for the victims of the crashed police airplane in the waters off Senayang, Riau Islands, Indonesia, on Dec 3, 2016.
An Indonesian Navy boat searching for the victims of the crashed police airplane in the waters off Senayang, Riau Islands, Indonesia, on Dec 3, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

Search and rescue operations were under way off Batam island yesterday after a twin-engine aircraft operated by the Indonesian police crashed with 15 people on board.

Fishermen found wreckage of the Polish-made M-28 Skytruck off Pulau Senayang, in Riau Islands province, at 11.30am (12.30pm Singapore time) yesterday.

There have been no reports of any survivors, although some body parts were found among the debris, local authorities said. The crash is the latest involving aircraft used by Indonesia's armed forces or police.

In response to media queries, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) yesterday confirmed that the aircraft had lost contact with Singapore air traffic control in the country's Flight Information Region at 11.22am Singapore time. Singapore has been managing flights over some areas in Riau since 1946.

CAAS said the plane took off at 10.24am Singapore time and was expected to arrive in Batam at 11.58am. Batam is one hour behind Singapore.

Search and rescue operations from Singapore were activated by the Singapore Rescue Coordination Centre, which is managed by CAAS and supported by other agencies.

"Its last known radar position was about 40 nautical miles south-east of Tanjung Pinang," said CAAS in a statement. "With clearance from the Indonesian authorities, one Super Puma helicopter and one Fokker 50 aircraft are currently on-scene supporting the Indonesians... The CAAS Crisis Management Centre has also been activated."

The plane was heading to Batam from Pangkal Pinang, in the Bangka-Belitung Islands, when it disappeared from radar, Tanjung Pinang Naval Base commander First Admiral S. Irawan told The Sunday Times. Among the passengers were police officers and aircraft maintenance crew.

"Before it plunged, a loud explosion was heard by local residents on the ground," added Admiral Irawan.

The Indonesian Navy has deployed three ships and two patrol boats for the recovery operation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 04, 2016, with the headline 'Indonesian police plane crashes with 15 on board'. Print Edition | Subscribe