Published On: Wed, Jul 1st, 2015

Indonesia Transport Plane Crash Death Toll Rises

Indonesian officials say 141 bodies have been recovered after a military transport plane crashed in a residential area of Medan on Tuesday.

Indonesia transport plane crash

The military says none of the 122 people on board the Hercules C-130 survived when it hit houses and a hotel before bursting into flames.

Many of the victims are thought to have been relatives of servicemen and women.

But the latest death toll indicates there were at least 19 people killed on the ground.

The Dailyreleased Alice Budisatrijo in Jakarta says the military has repeatedly revised the passenger list, a sign of how loosely the military keeps track of who gets on its planes.

It is also investigating whether some of those on board were paying passengers which is not permitted, she adds.

Police official Agustinus Tarigan told reporters at a Medan hospital on Wednesday morning that 141 bodies had been received.

One official told the Jakarta Globe newspaper that some of the victims were having to be identified by blood samples.

‘Fire and smoke’

The cause of the crash is not yet known, but witnesses said the plane appeared to run into trouble shortly after taking off from Medan – Indonesia’s third largest city – for Tanjung Pinang, an island off Sumatra.

“It passed overhead a few times, really low,” a witness named Elfrida Efi told the Reuters news agency.

“There was fire and black smoke. The third time it came by it crashed into the roof of the hotel and exploded straight away.”

Air Force head Agus Supriatna said on Tuesday that the pilot had asked to return to base because of technical difficulties.

“The plane crashed while it was turning right to return to the airport,” he said.

President Joko Widodo used Twitter to send his condolences to the families, wishing them “patience and strength”.

History of crashes

The Hercules transport plane was manufactured in 1964, but a military spokesman said he was convinced that it was in good condition.

This is the fourth crash involving the military in three years, says our correspondent, and many Indonesians are demanding an upgrade of its mostly outdated defence equipment.

It is also the second time in 10 years that a plane has crashed in Medan.

In September 2005, a Boeing 737 came down in a crowded residential area shortly after take-off from Medan’s Polonia airport, killing 143 people including 30 on the ground.

Indonesian military aircraft crashes since 2009:

  • April 2015: An F-16 fighter jet catches fire as it takes off from an airbase in Jakarta
  • March 2015: Two air force planes from an Indonesian aerobatics team crash during a practise session
  • November 2013: An army helicopter crashes near the Indonesian-Malaysian border, killing 13 people
  • August 2013: A door from a training helicopter falls onto a residential area of Jakarta
  • 2012: Nine people killed after an Indonesian air force plane crashed into a housing complex in Jakarta
  • 2009: Military transport plane carrying troops and their families crashed in Java, killing 98 people