Rescuers struggled against rugged terrain to reach the wreckage of a small aircraft that crashed in mountainous Papua province with 54 people - and some 6.5 billion rupiah (S$661,000) in cash for the poor - on board. (see correction note)
The money was to be disbursed as part of a government savings programme to poor families in remote locations with no banking facilities.
A search and rescue plane spotted the wreckage of Trigana Air's ATR 42-300 in the densely forested Bintang Mountains. Officials suspect the plane crashed in bad weather about 10 minutes before it was due to land in the remote settlement of Oksibil.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said yesterday that search and rescue officials, including from the military and police, were about 4km from the wreckage site but had to stop operations as night fell.
"Meanwhile, I urge everyone not to speculate or spread (misinformation) about the cause of the crash, but leave it to the authorities," he told reporters yesterday evening.
"I urge everyone not to speculate or spread (misinformation) about the cause of the crash, but leave it to the authorities."
INDONESIAN PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO, on the Trigana Air flight that crashed in the mountainous Papua province with some US$470 million (S$661 million) in cash for the poor on board
"I have ordered the Transport Minister to act to improve safety and the quality of services in our aviation sector," he said, expressing his condolences again to the families of those on board. Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan has flown to Papua to oversee operations.
A senior official of Pos Indonesia said four staff members were on the Trigana plane to take the U$470 million to Oksibil.
The plane lost contact 33 minutes into the 45-minute flight from Papua's capital, Jayapura, to Oksibil in the south. A Transport Ministry spokesman said the plane was carrying 49 passengers, including five children, and five crew members.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday wrote to President Joko to "extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the families who lost their loved ones in this accident".
Indonesia's aviation sector, while one of the fastest-growing in the region, has a patchy record.
Sunday's crash is the third major incident in the past 12 months. Last December, an AirAsia plane flying from Surabaya to Singapore crashed in the Java Sea in stormy weather, killing all 162 on board. In June, an Indonesian military plane slammed into a residential area in Medan in North Sumatra, killing 142.
All but four Indonesia-registered carriers are banned from flying within the European Union.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that 'Rescuers struggled against rugged terrain to reach the wreckage of a small aircraft that crashed in mountainous Papua province with 54 people - and some US$470 million (S$661 million) in cash for the poor - on board.' The amount is actually 6.5 billion rupiah (S$661,000). We are sorry for the error.