Wednesday, May 20, 2009

97 dead in crash

Fire razes an Indonesian Air Force C-130 cargo plane after it crashed in East Java, killing at least 78 people. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - AN INDONESIAN military transport plane carrying 110 people crashed and burst into flames in East Java on Wednesday, killing at least 97 people, an air force official said.

The C-130 Hercules aircraft ploughed into several houses on the ground, scattering debris and sending flames and billowing smoke into the air, TV footage showed. 'The death toll is now 97 people and 15 injured,'said Mr Bambang Sulistio, an air force spokesman, adding that rescuers were still trying to evacuate more victims.

'The air force will form a team to investigate the accident,' he added. Soelistyo said there had been 11 crew and 99 passengers on board the aircraft, including air force personnel and civilian family members.

National military spokesman Sagom Tamboen told a news conference that the plane had been in good condition and the weather was clear before the crash.

The official put the death toll at 57 from the plane and two on the ground. He said there had been 11 crew and 98 passengers, including 10 children. 'The others are badly injured so it is possible the death toll will increase,' Mr Tamboen said.

Television footage from the scene showed people desperately trying to extinguish flames with buckets of water.

A doctor in a local hospital near the crash site said nine people were being treated.

The location of the crash is near the border of the districts of Madiun and Magetan in East Java, about 150 km southwest of Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya.

Air force spokesman Soelistyo said the plane had been flying from Jakarta to the eastern part of Java island. Former air force chief Chappy Hakim told Reuters the plane that crashed was US made and built in the 1980s.

Indonesia has a poor record of air safety and maintenance and has suffered a string of accidents in recent years affecting both commercial and military aircraft. -- REUTERS, AFP

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