Farouk Arnaz & Banjir Ambarita | October 28, 2010 JAKARTA GLOBE
Jakarta. Five police officers were killed when their plane crashed on a Papuan coast after delivering relief aid to victims of the Wasior flash flood in neighboring West Papua, police said on Thursday.
The aircraft was a Polish-made Skytruck that had left Nabire, a Papua district neighboring Wasior, where it refueled on Wednesday afternoon shortly before it crashed.
The twin-engined propeller aircraft was bound for Jakarta, National Police Spokesman Insp. Gen Iskandar Hasan said. It was scheduled to make brief stops in Ambon and Makassar.
“After the plane refueled in Nabire, it took off at 3:55 local time. At 4:30 p.m. the plane lost contact,” Iskandar said.
Villagers from Wami in Nabire district later reported to the police that they had found a wrecked plane at Aumi beach, some 15 kilometers from their village.
They said the aircraft appeared to have hit a large tree and was broken into pieces.
“Five bodies had been recovered from the crash site in Wami…we have also secured their weapons,” Iskandar said.
The Skytruck was piloted by Adjt. Comr. Irwan and co-piloted by First Insp. Bayu. The three crew members were identified as Second Insp. Mohamad Amri, First Brig. Hadirianto and First Brig. Aipul Bahri.
“We believe bad weather was to blame for the accident,” Iskandar said, adding that an investigation on the crash is ongoing.
Suroso, a local resident, said that at the time of the crash, the weather was bad, with “thick black cloud and heavy rains in Nabire.”
Nabire police chief Adj. Comr. Bambang Sutoyo said the cause of the plane crash is still to be determined but confirmed that weather was severe at the time of the crash.
“We cannot confirm at the moment what caused the accident because we are still searching for the plane’s black box.”
The police search team was still combing the area to locate the aircraft’s black box and other body parts, Bambang said.
In November 2009, another plane crashed in Dorman, Puncak Jaya district, in Papua. Four crew members of the National Police’s MD28 Skytruck were killed in the crash.
Papua, which relies heavily on air transportation in the face of limited land routes and difficult terrain, is also notorious for the vagaries of its weather.
The weather can often change abruptly, especially in the central mountainous range.