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90 killed in Indonesian jetliner crash

india Updated: Jan 02, 2007 10:25 IST
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Rescuers on Tuesday found the smoldering wreckage of an Indonesian jetliner that went missing during a storm, and officials said 90 people were killed while the remaining 12 aboard survived.

The Boeing 737 operated by local carrier Adam Air crashed in a mountainous region of Sulawesi island in the northeast of the sprawling archipelagic nation, said local police Chief Col Genot Hariyanto.

"The plane is destroyed and many bodies are around the Island," he said.

Adam Air spokesman Hartono said 90 people were killed and that there were 12 survivors in Monday's crash. Their condition was not known, said Hartono, who goes by a single name.

Rescue workers were at the crash site trying to evacuate survivors, officials said.

The plane was on a domestic flight from Java island to Sulawesi when it disappeared late Monday about an hour before it was due to land amid very bad weather. The captain managed to send out two distress signals, said national aviation chief Ichsan Tatang said late on Monday.

Hundreds of people gathered at Manado airport, the aircraft's destination.

Some collapsed when they heard the news 90 people had died, while others angrily banged on the door of the Adam Air office there, demanding information, witnesses said.

"I have heard on the television that 12 people survived, I just hope that one of them is my father," said Ridwan Lamani. Justin Tumurang's twin sister was on the plane. "Being a twin, we share almost every feeling. I felt something was not right, and it grew worse. Now I feel pain," she said. The 17-year-old plane carried six crew and 96 passengers, including 11 children. According to the airline, three of those on board were foreign citizens.

The aircraft's last inspection was on December 25 and it had flown 45,371 hours, Tatang said.

Weeks of seasonal rains and high winds in Indonesia have caused several deadly floods, landslides and maritime accidents, including the sinking of a ferry in the Java Sea just before midnight Friday that left at least 400 people dead or missing.

The passenger ship capsized about 1,000 kilometers (650 miles) from the area where the Adam Air plane disappeared, and naval ships and helicopters continued Tuesday to scour the choppy tropical waters for ferry survivors.

Adam Air is one of at least a dozen budget airlines that have emerged in Indonesia since 1999, when the industry was deregulated. The rapid expansion has led to cheap flights to scores of destinations around the sprawling nation, but has raised some safety concerns, since many of the airlines are small and lease planes that are decades old.

In September 2005, a Mandala Airlines Boeing 737 crashed after take off on Sumatra island, killing 143 people.

In September 1997, a Garuda Airlines Airbus crashed into a jungle-covered mountain slope in Sumatra, killing all 234 people aboard. Two months later, a Silk Air Boeing 737 jet crashed into a river on Sumatra, killing 104 people.

Adam Air, which began operations in 2003, was founded by Agung Laksono, the speaker of Indonesia's house of representatives and the company's chairman.

Last year, one of the airline's jetliners lost all communication and navigation systems for four hours during a flight between the Indonesian capital Jakarta and Makassar on Sulawesi Island, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing.

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