More bodies recovered following plane crash in Indonesia

Rescue workers still searching for victims as death toll climbs to at least 141 after military aircraft crashes in residential neighborhood

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Recovery crews in Indonesia have recovered more bodies following the crash of an air force transport plane in the city of Medan, leading to the confirmed death toll from the incident jumping to more than 140 on Wednesday.

A Hercules C-130 model plane hit the neighbourhood in Medan on the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Tuesday two minutes after taking off.

Indonesian Air Force Commander Agus Supriyatna said "no one survived the crash" and that the plane was carrying 101 passengers and 12 crew members, including military personnel and their families.

Officials could not verify the exact number of victims because nobody is sure of how many people were on the ground when the plane went down.

Indonesian authorities said 141 bodies have been recovered from the wreckage so far but more are expected to be retrieved.

The latest crash has once again opened up a debate over Indonesia’s aging air fleet.

While officials said the aircraft - which was built in the United States in the 1960s and has been in service since 1964 - had been inspected before it took off, Indonesian President Joko Widodo promised a review of military equipment.

"Following several plane crashes, we should conduct a total audit and modernize the [old] planes," Widodo was quoted as saying by the state news agency.

"We should not just buy weapons, but shift towards modernising our weapons systems," he also said in a televised statement on Wednesday.

"Our defence industry should be involved, starting from production, operation, maintenance. The main point is ... the procurement of weapons should ultimately move toward an independent defence industry."

The cause of the crash has not been determined but officials say engine failure could be the reason, following reports from witnesses who said flames and smoke were coming from the plane before it crashed. The aircraft's pilot also reportedly mentioned engine trouble immediately before the crash.

The plane began its journey from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta and made two stops before arriving at Medan. Different figures given of the number of passengers aboard  the plane have been attributed to the common practice in Indonesia of civilians using military planes to travel to remote areas.

In 2009, another Hercules C-130 military plane crashed into houses, killing 95 people on board and two on the ground. Last December an AirAsia jet crashed during a flight from Indonesia to Singapore, killing all 162 people on board.

TRTWorld and agencies