Rescuers have recovered a body from the waters off Pulau Lingga, in the Riau Islands, near the crash site of a police transport aircraft that went down last Saturday morning, said local police.
Riau Islands police spokesman S. Erlangga said yesterday that the body was found by Basarnas, Indonesia's research and rescue agency, last Saturday at 5.55pm local time, and it will be taken to nearby Batam to be identified.
He also said there were 13 people, including the pilot and crew, on the plane that crashed, even though earlier reports based on a flight manifest had stated 15.
Preliminary investigations, said Mr Erlangga, indicate that there were 16 on board, but three had disembarked at Pangkal Pinang, in the Bangka-Belitung Islands, before the plane left for Batam.
Some 16 vessels, two helicopters, one aircraft and 151 personnel have been mobilised to locate the survivors and recover the wreckage as of yesterday, he said, adding that the joint task force comprises Basarnas, Indonesia's coast guard and navy, as well as the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Singapore.
The aircraft and bodies of the passengers will no longer be intact, as the plane blew up at sea.
RIAU ISLANDS POLICE CHIEF SAM BUDIGUSDIAN, on eyewitness reports of how the plane exploded on impact.
The RCC is managed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and supported by other agencies.
Search and rescue operations started shortly after the twin-engine aircraft lost radar 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 last Saturday that the plane took off at 10.24am Singapore time and was expected to arrive in Batam at 11.58am. Batam is an hour behind Singapore.
Local fishermen found body parts, as well as backpacks and suitcases, among the debris of the aircraft near Pulau Senayang, in Riau Islands, at 11.30am local time.
Eyewitnesses reported that the Polish-made M-28 Skytruck exploded on impact, said Riau Islands police chief Sam Budigusdian.
"The aircraft and bodies of the passengers will no longer be intact, as the plane blew up at sea," he told The Straits Times yesterday.
The crash is the latest involving aircraft used by Indonesia's armed forces or police.
On Nov 27, 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.