Update 3: Death Toll in Indonesian Military Plane Crash Climbs to 10

By webadmin on 08:28 pm Jun 21, 2012
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An Indonesian Air Force plane crashed into a military housing complex in Jakarta on Thursday, killing all seven crew on board and two children and an elderly woman on the ground, officials said.

The ageing turboprop Fokker 27 split in two as it smashed into the military airport compound while on routine training, igniting a blaze that ripped through homes and sent thick smoke into the sky.

An AFP correspondent saw dozens of firefighters battling the blaze at the Halim Perdanakusuma compound, and what appeared to be the plane’s wing sticking out from the roof of a house.

“All seven crew and three people on the ground were killed,” air force spokesman Colonel Agung Sasongko Jati told reporters. “The plane has split into two.”

The three who died on the ground were two cousins, aged two and six, and an elderly woman, Jati told AFP, adding  that the six-year-old’s mother was in critical condition. There were no immediate reports of other victims.

Earlier, Kompas.com reported that six of the seven crew members had died in the crash, with the seventh hospitalized in critical condition.

Vice President Boediono expressed his condolences to families of the dead victims of the crash, saying President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is on a working visit to Latin America, had been informed of the news.

“The president, abroad right now, has received the report and given some directives. The president and I personally, as well as the government, express our deepest condolences to all families of the victims,” Boediono told a press conference at his office in Jakarta.

He added that the Indonesian Air Force was currently investigating the case.

Indonesia relies heavily on air transport but has one of the world’s poorest aviation safety records, and military plane crashes are relatively common.

In early May, a Russian Sukhoi jet crashed into a dormant volcano in Java when it was on a promotional demonstration, killing all 45 aboard.

Thursday’s crash happened at 2:45 p.m., after the plane took off from Halim at around 1:10 pm.

Mukhlis, 42, was at home in the complex and said she heard the plane flying low seconds before it crashed 700 meters from her home.

“A few seconds after I heard the plane flying low, I heard a loud boom. I quickly ran outside and saw a column of smoke and flames in the distance behind my house where it crashed,” said Mukhlis.

A rescue team with torches was helping military personnel search for more victims on the ground in the dark early evening.

“The aircraft was conducting training and there were no passengers aboard,” another Air Force spokesman, Asman Yunus, told AFP.

Yunus said the military would look into the cause of the crash. Military spokesman Iskandar Sitompul said the plane was more than 20 years old.

Indonesia is in the process of updating its ageing military aircraft and equipment, procuring Russian and American warplanes, boats for its navy and parts for its transport planes.

Another recent crash saw a New Zealand pilot and two Indonesians killed in March after a helicopter chartered by the Indonesian arm of US mining company Freeport-McMoRan went down in remote Papua province.

AFP, JG