20 Aug 2015

First bodies carried out from Papuan crash site

1:56 pm on 20 August 2015

The first bodies of 54 people killed when a plane went down in Indonesia's Papua province have been carried out from the remote crash site.

Map of New Guinea.

Map of New Guinea. Photo: wpxi

The military says the remains of six people have arrived at the settlement of Oksibil near the border with Papua New Guinea.

Another 11 bodies are being carried through the dense forests and mountainous terrain from where the Trigana Air plane crashed on Sunday in bad weather after taking off from Jayapura.

About 300 local people are involved in the recovery effort.

Authorities had initially hoped to use helicopters to airlift the bodies from the site, but bad weather made it too dangerous to fly in the area on Wednesday.

Once recovered, the bodies will be flown to the Papuan capital Jayapura.

It took rescuers two days to reach the site which is about 15 kilometres from Oksibil; their initial efforts were hindered by the rough terrain, thick fog and heavy rain.

They found the ATR 42-300 twin-turboprop aircraft in pieces and the bodies of those who had been aboard.

Cockpit recorder recovered

They also recovered one of the plane's black box flight data recorders, and some of the billions of Rupiah (US$470,000) in government social assistance funds that was being transported for distribution to poor families.

Some of the money was badly burnt.

A team of three investigators from France's BEA agency, which probes air accidents, has headed to Indonesia along with four technical advisers from ATR, a European plane-maker based in France, to look into the accident.

The plane had set off from Jayapura on what was supposed to be a 45-minute flight to Oksibil, but lost contact 10 minutes before landing as it sought to descend in heavy cloud and rain.

A transport ministry spokesman said the recovery effort was halted at nightfall and was due to resume on Thursday.

Relatives of passengers on the ill-fated Trigana Air flight await information.

Relatives of passengers on the ill-fated Trigana Air flight await information. Photo: AFP

Officials initially believed both black boxes - the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder - had been found in the wreckage.

But the spokesman said the flight data recorder, which takes readings from many different parts of the aircraft, had not yet been recovered.

The crash was just the latest air accident in Indonesia, which has a poor aviation safety record and has suffered major disasters in recent months, including the crash of an AirAsia plane in December with the loss of 162 lives.

Indonesia wants report within month

Indonesia's Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan has called for a report within a month on Sunday's plane crash.

He has urged the National Transportation Safety Commission to report the findings of its preliminary investigation.

Antara News reports the minister has urged the authorities to work together to resolve issues around the passenger list and insurance.

The Commission's chief Tatang Kurniadi has confirmed that all those on board were Indonesians and he says that means the investigation results do not need to be reported to other countries.