No survivors, no cash found at Indonesia plane crash site

Bodies of all 54 people on board Trigana Air plane recovered, but no sign of cash carried in aircraft

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Indonesian authorities announced on Tuesday that there are no survivors from the crash of a passenger plane that slammed into a mountain in Indonesia’s Papua province, carrying 54 people on board, and that there has also been no sign of cash worth about $470,000 for local aid that was on board the plane.

The Trigana airplane went missing on Sunday shortly after departing from Jayapura. All passengers onboard were reportedly Indonesians, including five children and five crew members.

Five local government officials and members of the local parliament who were headed to the city of Oksibil to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence were among the passengers.

Indonesia's top rescue official said the aircraft was completely destroyed and partially burnt. The plane's flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, the "black box," have also been found.

When asked about the condition of the bodies on the plane, deputy operations officer of the Search and Rescue Agency told reporters that everything was reduced to pieces.

"It is not right to talk about the condition of the bodies here in this news conference. Everything is in pieces," Heronimus Guru was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The local government officials on the plane were carrying money packed in four bags earmarked for remote villages in Indonesia’s poor eastern province as part of an official assistance program and this money has not been found.

Around 6,000 low income families in Pegunungan Bintang have missed out on Prosperous Family Savings Program (PSKS) funds because of the accident, the Jakarta Post reported.

Trigana Airlines said they were not aware the money was on the plane.

“We didn’t know that there was such a huge amount of money on the plane. It should have been reported to Trigana. Moreover, [the money] belonged to the state. Therefore, this is not our responsibility,” Adi Kadi, head of Trigana’s cargo division at Sentani Airport, told Jakarta Post.

Dozens of rescuers reached the crash site on Tuesday and recovered all 54 bodies.

According to the National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) the aircraft was an ATR 42-300 and it crashed at an altitude of 2,600 meters in the middle of a thick jungle. Weather conditions were bad at the time of the crash and included heavy rain, strong winds and fog, officials said.

The relatives of the victims expressed anger towards Trigana for late and insufficient information on the fate of their loved ones and broke down in tears when they heard about the crash.

"They are unprofessional ... they play with our feelings of grieving,"  Cory Gasper, the brother of one victim, told Associated Press.

Trigana Airlines,  which began operations in 1991,  has been linked with 19 serious incidents since then. The carrier has lost eight aircraft and suffered major damage to 11 others, according to the Aviation Safety Network. It has been on a European Union blacklist of banned carriers since 2007, along with six other Indonesian airlines.

Last December an AirAsia plane plummeted into the Java Sea, killing all 192 people on board. A military transport plane crashed in Sumatra in July, claiming 140 lives. The archipelago nation has been struggling to find qualified pilots, mechanics, or air traffic controllers for its rapidly expanding airline markets.

The Indonesian government introduced regulations to improve aviation safety after the AirAsia crash and promised to renew its ageing air force fleet.

TRTWorld and agencies