JAKARTA • A cargo plane carrying four crew members went missing during a short flight in mountainous eastern Indonesia, the authorities said, the latest blow to the country's beleaguered aviation sector.
The Caribou plane lost contact with air traffic control yesterday during what was supposed to be a flight of around half an hour in remote Papua province, the Transport Ministry said.
The ministry said in a statement that the aircraft, operated by logistics and transport company Alfa Trans, and owned by the local authorities, set off from the city of Timika at 7.57am and was headed to Ilaga, a farming community nestled amid mountains.
The plane contacted air traffic control in Ilaga at 8.23am saying that it was due to land in a few minutes, but never arrived. Officials said that the aircraft sent an emergency signal from an area between two mountain passes.
"The plane was being used to transport cargo belonging to Puncak district administration and is owned by the Puncak district government," said Transport Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan, referring to the local government.
He did not give details about the area's weather at the time. Local media reported that the plane's cargo included construction materials.
A search has been launched for the missing aircraft, according to the ministry. All the crew members were Indonesians.
The plane is part of the Caribou DHC-4 family of cargo aircraft, which only need a small space for take-off and landing, and are used in rugged terrain.
Indonesia has a poor aviation safety record and has suffered a string of major air disasters in recent years. Papua is a problematic place to fly in due to its mountainous terrain and frequent poor weather.