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. 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 BBC’s 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mostly outdated defence equipment.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