Indonesia police aircraft with 15 on board crashes in waters off Batam

Police carry a body bag containing debris and belongings of passengers from a plane that went missing in Batam on Dec 4, 2016.
Police carry a body bag containing debris and belongings of passengers from a plane that went missing in Batam on Dec 4, 2016. PHOTO: AFP
Police carry a box containing remains of victims from a plane that went missing in Batam on Dec 4, 2016.
Police carry a box containing remains of victims from a plane that went missing in Batam on Dec 4, 2016. PHOTO: AFP
A M-28 Skytruck.
A M-28 Skytruck.PHOTO: RIAU ISLANDS POLICE

JAKARTA - A twin-engine aircraft operated by the Indonesian police crashed into the sea near Batam on Saturday (Dec 3) with 15 people on board, said local authorities. There are no reports of survivors.

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

Wreckages of the M-28 Skytruck were found by fishermen in waters off Pulau Senayang, Riau Islands province, at 11.30am local time. Body parts were found among the debris. 

Those on board included police officers and aircraft maintenance crew, among others.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) confirmed that an Indonesian police light aircraft, P4201, had lost contact with Singapore air traffic control in the Singapore Flight Information Region at 11:22am Singapore time. 

Singapore has been managing flights over some areas in Riau since 1946.

Search and rescue operations from Singapore were subsequently activated by the Singapore Rescue Coordination Centre, which is managed by CAAS and supported by various other agencies, said CAAS in a statement.

"Its last known radar position was about 40 nautical miles south-east of Tanjung Pinang," CAAS said of the Indonesian aircraft. "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 Straits Times.

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

"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.