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Tue, Apr 12, 2005

Plane Down: New Guinea

Search Underway, But Officials Fear The Worst

Authorities in West Papau Province, Indonesia, are searching for a deHavilland DHC-6 (file photo, below) with 18 people on board after it was reported missing by air traffic controllers as it flew over the jungle Monday.

"We lost contact with the plane carrying 14 adult passengers, a baby and three crew members, and now we are searching the location of the crash," Timika Police Chief Lieutenant Colonel Paulus Waterpau told local reporters.

The aircraft, operated by the local government under the banner "GT Air," was on its way to Enarotali in the central highlands, carrying 14 adults, a baby and a crew of three.

There's been a rash of aviation-related mishaps in West Papau over the past three months. At the same strip from which the DHC-6 took off Monday, another Twin Otter overran the runway and crashed through a fence February 23rd.

Two days before that, a police transport plane went down into the sea on approach to another airport in the same province. Fifteen people were killed in that accident. Three were injured.

FMI: www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/id.html

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