Riau air crash: 5 victims identified with DNA tests

The Polish-made M-28 Skytruck was flying from Pangkal Pinang, in the Bangka-Belitung Islands, to Batam on Dec 3 when it lost radar contact with Singapore air traffic control at 11.22am Singapore time.
The Polish-made M-28 Skytruck was flying from Pangkal Pinang, in the Bangka-Belitung Islands, to Batam on Dec 3 when it lost radar contact with Singapore air traffic control at 11.22am Singapore time.PHOTO: EPA

Indonesian forensic experts have identified five of the 13 people on board an ill-fated police transport aircraft which went down early this month, as search efforts drew to a close.

A number of body parts have been recovered from the surrounding waters near the crash site off Pulau Senayang in Riau Islands, provincial police spokesman S. Erlangga told The Straits Times yesterday.

"The body parts were scattered in various places. A few had drifted as far as 5km due to the strong currents," he said, adding that rescuers had retrieved a headless body and a leg on Saturday.

"Since the bodies were no longer intact, DNA tests were carried out and the police forensic team have positively identified five victims. They will be handed over to their families later after search and rescue ends," he said, adding that operations are expected to end today.

Mr Erlangga said the rescue operations to locate the survivors and recover the wreckage had involved 16 vessels, two helicopters, one aircraft and 151 personnel.

The joint task force had comprised the country's search-and- rescue agency Basarnas, coast guard and navy, as well as the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Singapore.

The RCC is managed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and supported by other agencies.

The Polish-made M-28 Skytruck was flying from Pangkal Pinang, in the Bangka-Belitung Islands, to Batam on Dec 3 when it lost radar contact with Singapore air traffic control at 11.22am Singapore time.

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

Indonesia has a poor air safety record and crashes involving commercial as well as military and police aircraft are not unusual.

On Nov 24, three soldiers were killed when a military helicopter crashed in Malinau, in North Kalimantan. Three days later, a navy plane reportedly crash-landed at the Leo Wattimena Air Force base in Morotai, North Maluku, with five crew members and nine passengers on board.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2016, with the headline 'Riau air crash: 5 victims identified with DNA tests'. Print Edition | Subscribe