An Indonesian aircraft carrying 54 passengers lost contact with the air traffic control on Sunday in a remote, forested eastern region, the National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) said the search was hampered as night falls.
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''We cant confirm if it has crashed. We can say contact has been lost with the plane,'' BASARNAS chief Bambang Soelystyo told Reuters by phone.
''It's a Trigana airline plane carrying 54 people including 5 crew. We are working to get more details.''
According to the official BASARNAS Twitter account, the aircraft, a short-haul ATR 42-300 airliner belonging to Trigana Air Service and built in France and Italy, was carrying 44 adults passengers, five crew and five children and infants.
The plane was flying between Jayapura's Sentani airport and Oksibil, due south of Jayapura, the capital of Papua province. Air transport is commonly used in Papua, Indonesia's easternmost province, where land travel if often impossible.
It wasn't clear if the search will go into the night because of how dense the forest is and the mountainous region where the aircraft was traveling.
Trigana has been on EU black list since 2007. Airlines on the list are barred from operating in European airspace due to safety standards or concerns about the regulatory environment in its country of registration.
Trigana has had 14 serious incidents since 1991 when it began its operations.
Indonesia has a patchy aviation safety record and has seen two major crashes in the past year including an AirAsia flight that went down in the Java sea, killing all on board. After the crash, the government introduced regulations aimed at improving safety.
The Indonesian president has promised a review of the aging air force fleet in July after a military transport plane crashed in the north of the country.