Monday, April 12, 2010

Merpati airline Boeing 737 crashes

A passenger jet carrying about 100 people has skidded off a runway and plunged into a river after landing in heavy rain in Indonesia.

Officials say at least 20 people are injured.

The Merpati airline Boeing 737 broke into pieces this morning as it bounced off the tarmac at Rendani domestic airport in Manokwari, West Papua, director general of civil aviation Herry Bhakti Singayuda said.

Passenger plane skids off runway in Indonesia

A jet carrying about 100 passengers skidded off the runway into a shallow river as it landed in Indonesia today, injuring about 20 people, officials said.

The Merpati airline Boeing 737 broke into pieces as it bounced off the tarmac at Rendani domestic airport in Manokwari, West Papua, director general of civil aviation Herry Bhakti Singayuda said.

"It skidded off the runway and part of its body landed in a river," he said, referring to a shallow waterway about 200 metres from the runway.

"All 103 passengers and six crew members are safe. Some are injured. They have been rushed to hospital."

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed that there were no Australians on board.

Bad weather including heavy rain and fog were suspected of playing a part in the crash although expert investigators had yet to arrive at the scene, he said.

Manokwari Hospital emergency unit nurse Benget Hutagalung said "about 20" people had been brought in with shattered limbs and head injuries.

Witnesses said the left wing broke off as the plane hurtled into trees at the end of the runway.

The body of the plane came to rest with the tail section in the river and the cockpit almost sheared off.

The plane was flying on a domestic route from Sorong, also in West Papua province, to Manokwari, a distance of about 340 kilometres.

Transport Ministry experts from the capital, Jakarta, were on their way to the rugged province in the far east of the country to investigate the crash, an official said.

The vast archipelago of Indonesia relies heavily on air transport but has one of Asia's worst air safety records.

Indonesian airlines have been attempting to recover from a poor safety record in recent years.

In August last year a Merpati aircraft disappeared in remote Papua. Its wreckage was found two days later and all 16 passengers and crew aboard were killed.

Three years ago 21 people, including five Australians, were killed when a Garuda plane crashed on the runway at Yogyakarta airport.

Last year 102 people were killed in two separate crashes involving Indonesian military aircraft.

Shortly after the Garuda crash, the European Union banned all Indonesia-registered aircraft from flying to Europe. The EU lifted the ban on Garuda in December last year, citing improvements in the airline's safety standards.

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