By Tokana Hasavi Jnr – EMTV, Port Moresby
Bad weather and extreme rugged terrain have hampered salvage operations of the Trigana twinturbo aircraft that crashed in Indonesia’s mountainous and remote region of Papua, on Sunday.
On a positive note, the crash site and debris were located yesterday, according to images taken from a search aircraft on Monday.
Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Chief, Heronimus Guru, is certain that it is the missing turboprop aircraft, that lost contact ten minutes away from Oksibil.
“The weather has become foggy so the search and rescue teams’ helicopter that was supposed to search the area was forced to return to Oksibil Airport,” Guru said.
Unable to enter by air, a foot patrol team was dispatched for a six kilometre trek, but stopped when thick fog rolled in.
They camped on Mt. Oksab at an altitude of 3,500 metres waiting for better weather conditions to continue, according to the Search and Rescue Agency.
“Because of the dense or extreme forest condition, it makes it very difficult to reach the area using the normal amount of time, although it is located about seven nautical miles or fourteen kilometres from Oksibil Airport,” explained Guru.
At present there are no confirmed reports on the status of the 54 passengers and crew on board.
The flight was also carrying cash worth around $470,000 for remote villages, an Indonesian post office spokesman revealed.
There was no suggestion that the large sum of money transported on the plane was linked to its crash.
When asked about the manifest, Guru said he has no knowledge on that.
“On the question on whether the flight was carrying money or not, is not our concern because we have no information on that, so I cannot answer that question,” said Guru.
All passengers were Indonesians, which included 44 adult passengers, five children and five crew members, according to the search and rescue agency.
Family members of some of the people on board gathered at the Oksibil airport yesterday, waiting anxiously for the news of their loved ones.