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At Least 97 Killed In Indonesian Plane Crash


Rescuers look at the crash site of the Indonesian military's C-130 Hercules, a transport aircraft, in Magetan in East Java on May 20

Rescuers look at the crash site of the Indonesian military's C-130 Hercules, a transport aircraft, in Magetan in East Java on May 20

JAKARTA (Reuters) -- An Indonesian military transport plane carrying more than 100 people on board has crashed and burst into flames in East Java, killing at least 97 people, a disaster official said.

The C-130 Hercules aircraft plowed into several houses on the ground, scattering debris and sending flames and billowing smoke into the air, TV footage showed.

Rustam Pakaya, the head of the Health Ministry's crisis center, told Reuters by telephone 97 people had been killed and 15 injured,including some on the ground.

Earlier Bambang Samoedro, the Iswahyudi air force base commander in Magetan near the crash site, said 90 had died.

"We have identified 105 people. Five people suffered from light injuries, 10 had heavy injuries and the rest are dead," Samoedro said by telephone.

There had been 11 crew and 98 passengers on board, including 10 children, national military spokesman Sagom Tamboen told a news conference, adding the plane had been in good condition and the weather was clear before the crash.

The plane had been on a regular flight from Jakarta to the base in East Java transporting military personnel and their families. It had been due to fly on to Sulawesi and Papua.

"The air force will form a team to investigate the accident," said another air force spokesman, Bambang Soelistyo.

Television footage from the scene showed people desperately trying to extinguish flames with buckets of water.

"About 15 meters of the tail is still intact, but the body to the front is broken and burnt," said Suwardi, a sub-district head in Magetan, where the crash took place.

"Earlier we heard blasts. But not anymore, now the plane is still on fire," added Suwardi, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. He said the site was difficult to reach because it was on the fringe of a rice field.

Television footage from the scene showed people desperately trying to extinguish flames with buckets of water.

"About 15 meters of the tail is still intact, but the body to the front is broken and burnt," said Suwardi, a sub-district head in Magetan, where the crash took place. "Earlier we heard blasts. But not anymore, now the plane is still on fire," added the official, who said air force personnel were trying to evacuate victims but the site was difficult to reach because it was on the fringe of a rice field.

"I think there are still more people inside," he said, adding the plane had crashed at about 6:30 a.m. local time around 5-7 kilometers from the Iswahyudi air-force base.

A doctor in a local hospital near the crash site said nine people were being treated.

The location of the crash is near the border of the districts of Madiun and Magetan in East Java, about 150 kilometers southwest of Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya.

Air-force spokesman Soelistyo said the plane had been flying from Jakarta to the eastern part of Java island.

Former air-force chief Chappy Hakim told Reuters the plane that crashed was U.S.-made and built in the 1980s.

Indonesia has a poor record of air safety and maintenance and has suffered a string of accidents in recent years affecting both commercial and military aircraft.
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