Sumatra helicopter crash survivor found in lake

Mr Fransiskus Subihardayan being carried by a rescue team from Sumatra’s Lake Toba yesterday. Search teams are still hunting for the missing helicopter and the other passengers.
Mr Fransiskus Subihardayan being carried by a rescue team from Sumatra’s Lake Toba yesterday. Search teams are still hunting for the missing helicopter and the other passengers. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/INDONESIAN NAVY

SAMOSIR (Indonesia) • A missing Indonesian man was found alive, naked and floating in a huge volcanic lake yesterday, two days after the helicopter in which he was travelling crashed.

Mr Fransiskus Subihardayan was rushed to hospital after being found conscious but very weak and wearing only a black watch in Lake Toba into which the aircraft is believed to have plummeted, on western Sumatra island.

In his 20s, he was one of five people aboard the Eurocopter EC-130 when it disappeared on Sunday during a short flight from Samosir island, a popular tourist spot on the lake, to the city of Medan.

"The man was found by the navy at around 1pm local time," Mr Hisar Turnip, a search and rescue agency spokesman, said. "He was not swimming, just floating. He was found without clothes, stark naked."

He told rescuers he was a passenger on the helicopter and gave some details, but he was slipping in and out of consciousness, officials said. His current condition was not immediately clear.

Search and rescue agency official Heronimus Guru said that Mr Fransiskus told rescuers that all on board - himself, two other passengers, one pilot and one engineer - managed to jump from the helicopter as it went down. The rescue came after a helicopter seat cushion was found in the lake late on Monday.

Search teams are still hunting for the wreckage of the missing aircraft and the other passengers and crew.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2015, with the headline 'Sumatra helicopter crash survivor found in lake'. Print Edition | Subscribe