Confusion over missing Java plane
Indonesia's transport minister has denied reports that the wreckage
of a plane carrying 102 people from Java had been found on Sulawesi
island. Hatta Radjasa said the plane had not been found and reports to
the contrary were based on rumours from local villagers which were
Rescuers and airline officials were earlier quoted as saying they had
seen bodies at the crash site. The confusion is adding to the distress
of relatives of those on board. Hatta Radjasa told local radio that
search teams were still looking for the plane, a 17-year-old Boeing
"It's not true that the crash location has been found," he said, an
hour after talking about the difficulties search teams faced in reaching
what was then thought to be the crash site. First Air Marshal Eddy
Suyanto, commander of the air base in Makassar, close to where the plane
was originally reported to have come down, also contradicted his earlier
statement that wreckage had been found.
"The location has not been found. We apologise that the news that we
conveyed was not true," he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
Another regional commander, Major General Arif Budi Santoso, told Metro
TV that no wreckage had been found at the supposed crash site. News from
the village head reporting 12 survivors was also not true, the village
head said that he never made that report," he said.
The Adam Air plane went missing en route from Surabaya in Java on a
two-hour flight to Manado in northern Sulawesi on Monday. According to
the earlier reports, the plane's debris was believed to have been found
in remote terrain near the town of Polewali in western Sulawesi.
The reports said rescue and search teams hiked through heavy rain for
hours to reach the wreckage of the Boeing 737. A number of local
officials confirmed 90 bodies had been found, and described debris
scattered across a wide area. The confusion and lack of information has
been fuelling anger among the families of those onboard, the BBC's Lucy
Williamson in Jakarta says.
Dozens had gathered at airports on Java and in northern Sulawesi to
wait for flights that would take them nearer to the scene of the crash.
But the airline has said it would not take relatives to the area until
it was sure what the casualty figures were.
The plane went missing after sending out two distress calls when it
was an hour away from its destination on Monday. The region has been
subjected to high winds and severe storms in the last few days. About
400 people are still missing after a passenger ship sank off Java on
Adam Air, a privately owned low-cost airline based in Jakarta,
started flying in 2003. It was set up by Agung Laksono, the speaker of
Indonesia's house of representatives. Adam Air is one of at least a
dozen budget airlines to begin operations since the industry was
deregulated in 1999.
Indonesia has a chequered flight safety record which includes several
major crashes. Last year almost 150 people were killed when a plane
crashed into a busy road shortly after taking off from Medan on the
island of Sumatra.