Indonesian rescuers say they have discovered bodies from a wreckedRussian jetliner on a near-vertical cliff of a dormant volcanosouth of Jakarta. Authorities say there are no signs of survivorsamong the estimated 50 people on board, and warn that recoveryefforts were hampered Thursday by bad weather and the remoteness ofthe crash site. Speaking in the capital, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said heis in direct contact with rescue teams. "The airplane crashed at the edge of Mount Salak. I have spokendirectly to our officer in the field. |
It was around 1.5 kilometersfrom the informed point of scene. An investigation must be doneimmediately and thoroughly. Search and rescue operations mustprioritize finding people on board," Yudhoyono declared. A search and rescue agency spokesman, Gagah Prakoso, said rescuersearly Thursday were lowered from helicopters hovering over thecrash site. He said bodies will be placed in cargo nets and liftedfrom the scene.
Watch related video of search efforts Family members of the victims who had gathered at a Jakarta airportbroke down in tears when they heard that the wreckage had beenlocated. The doomed jetliner, which was on a promotional sales tour, tookoff from Jakarta's Halim Airport shortly after 2:00 p.m. local timeWednesday with an entourage of prospective buyers, journalists andcrew. It was expected to return in less than an hour.
But the planedropped in altitude from 3,000 to 1,800 meters and lost contactwith air traffic control at Mount Salak, which is 2,200 metershigh. Authorities say it is not clear why the plane requested to descendor whether air controllers approved the maneuver. Reports on the number of people aboard the plane had not beenreconciled by Thursday evening. Local rescue officials said theplane was carrying 46 people, while the company who invited thepassengers said there were 50 on board. The Russian embassy inJakarta said there were 44 people on the plane.
Authorities say the 100-seat Sukhoi Superjet 100 plane, built byRussia in a move to boost its civil aviation industry, was on thesecond of two demonstration flights when it disappeared in theremote Bogor region. The Itar-Tass news agency said the newly-minted plane recentlyperformed demonstrations in Central and South Asia, includingflights in Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Burma and had logged about6,500 hours of flight time since its 2008 maiden launch. The jetliner is currently in use with Russia's largest carrier,Aeroflot, and the Armenian carrier, Armavia. Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP andReuters.
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