At least 142 people were killed when an Indonesian air force transport plane on Tuesday crashed into a major city shortly after a take-off. The official authorities also told that the plane had exploded soon after it took-off.
The crashed happened in a residential area of Medan, a city of two million population located on the island of Sumatra, when the Hercules C-130, the 51-year-old plane went down near a newly built residential area, hitting a massage parlour and a small hotel.
The eyewitness accounts that the crash was so ferocious that it left the Buildings in ruins within seconds.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has expressed sorrow at the accident. Taking to the micro-blogging site, Twitter he wrote, “May the families be given patience and strength…May we remain protected from disaster”.
According to the Indonesian Air Force Chief Agus Supriatna there were 113 people on board the plane, including 12 crew and 101 passengers when it crashed. The air force chief further ruled out chances of any survivors among those inside the aircraft. 19 others were reported to have been killed in the crash.
“No, no. No survivors, I have just returned from the site,” Supriatna was quoted by the local press.
So far more than 100 bodies have been pulled out from the debris and brought to a hospital in Medan, said a Red Cross official, who is helping in the recovery effort.
It is presumed that many passengers were likely to be the family members of servicemen and women, said a spokesman for Medan airbase from where the plane had departed.
The local police said rescuers were still trying to get into the ruined massage parlour, a three-storey building. The authorities are yet to confirm about the number of people who were inside the parlour when it was hit by the aircraft.
A rescue operation swung into action following the crash, with ambulances ferrying bodies from the site. Medan’s police chief said that the bodies had been crushed under the wreckage of the plane and buildings.
Tuesday’s incident came just six months after an Air Asia plane crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people on board.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, the disaster once again shone a harsh light on Indonesia’s poor aviation safety record. It also raised questions about the Indonesian military’s aircraft as it was the sixth fatal crash involving an Indonesian air force plane in the past decade.
(With inputs from the PTI)