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Plane with 27 people crashes

A passenger plane carrying 27 people crashed on Saturday as it was about to land in bad weather in Indonesia's eastern province of West Papua, killing at least 15, officials said.

world Updated: May 07, 2011 16:19 IST

A passenger plane carrying 27 people crashed on Saturday as it was about to land in bad weather in Indonesia's eastern province of West Papua, killing at least 15, officials said.

Transportation ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said the Chinese-made Xian MA60 twin-turboprop plane belonging to a state-owned airline went down just before landing in Kaimana. The flight originated in Sorong, another town in the province.

"Given the condition of the wreckage of the ill-fated plane, it is hard to say that there are any survivors," Ervan said.

Police Lt. Col. Antonius Wantri Julianto said 15 bodies had been found and rescuers were searching for other victims. They were hampered by heavy rain.

Nuno Sampurno, chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency, said the plane crashed into Kaimana Bay, several hundred yards (meters) from the airport.

Sampurno said the crash was believed to have been caused by bad weather which limited visibility.

The passengers included an infant and two children, Ervan said.

The Kompas daily newspaper said the plane was one of four MA60s owned by Merpati Nusantara Airlines.

Indonesia, an archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands and 235 million people, has been plagued by a string of transportation accidents in recent years, from plane and train crashes to ferry sinkings. Overcrowding, aging infrastructure and poor safety standards are often to blame.