Indonesian search teams have found all 54 bodies who were on board the Trigana Air passenger aircraft that crashed in the mountainous of eastern Papua province, a transportation ministry official said on Tuesday. The plane was found "completely destroyed" in a fire-blackened clearing at a remote site in the dense jungle. The plane's "black boxes", consisting of a flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, were also found.
"The plane has crashed, it is completely destroyed," search and rescue chief Bambang Soelistyo said of the ATR 42-300 after rescue teams reached the site in Papua province at 9:30 am (0030 GMT).
"Everything was in pieces and part of the plane is burnt. We could see burn marks on some pieces."
The disaster is just the latest air accident in Indonesia, which has a poor aviation safety record and has suffered major disasters in recent months, including the crash of an AirAsia plane in December with the loss of 162 lives.
Some bodies were not intact, and others were badly burnt.
The harsh conditions meant authorities were planning to lift the bodies from the site by helicopter, the search and rescue agency said.
"The challenge is the weather, it changes from good to bad very fast and it's very cold now," said Captain Beni Sumaryanto, Trigana Air's service director of operations.
All 54 bodies found dead in Indonesian plane crash
Officials said there was no immediate news on the fate of 6.5 billion rupiah ($470,000) that were being transported by the plane in cash, intended for distribution to poor families as social assistance funds.
A team of about 100 rescuers, including personnel from the military, police and search and rescue agency, were at the crash site, the transport ministry said.
Thick fog and rain had hampered attempts by more than 250 rescuers and 11 aircraft to reach the wreckage on Monday.
The plane had set off from Papua's capital Jayapura on what was supposed to be a 45-minute flight to Oksibil, a remote settlement in the mountains.
But it lost contact with air traffic control about 10 minutes before reaching its destination, soon after the crew requested permission to start descending in heavy cloud and rain to land.
Trigana Air's Sumaryanto said "unpredictable weather and mountainous terrain" had likely caused the accident, adding that the plane was in good condition and the pilot experienced.
Small aircraft are commonly used for transport in remote and mountainous Papua and bad weather has caused several accidents in recent years.
Last week a Cessna propeller plane crashed in Papua's Yahukimo district, killing one person and seriously injuring the five others on board.
Trigana Air, a small domestic Indonesian airline, has experienced a string of serious incidents and is banned from flying in European Union airspace.
In June, an Indonesian military plane crashed into a residential neighbourhood in the city of Medan, exploding in a fireball and killing 142 people.
The aviation sector in Indonesia is expanding fast but airlines are struggling to find enough well-trained personnel to keep up with the rapid growth in the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.