On Sunday, after losing contact with ground control, an Indonesian airliner went missing over the country’s easternmost province of Papua, a remote and mountainous region, the Associated Press reports.
Officials said the Trigana Air Service lost contact with ground control during a short flight from Papua’s provincial capital of Jayapura to the city of Oksibil. Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said there was no indication that the pilot had made a distress call.
Barata said that the plane was an ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane carrying 49 passengers and five crew members. Five children were among the passengers, he said, including three infants.
One BASARNAS official told NBC News that the airliner lost contact at 2:55 p.m — before it was due to arrive.
However, local BASARNAS search and rescue officer Raymond Konstantin told NBC News that air traffic control said the plane last made contact at 3:21 local time — after it was due on the ground — saying it was unable to land due to poor visibility.
The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.
Aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman told The Guardian that it was likely the missing plane had crashed, given the amount of fuel it was carrying and the time it had been missing. “If it has not landed somewhere now, it has crashed somewhere, that’s for sure.”
“It’s mountainous, very remote and the airfield runways are sometimes on the side of a hill so it is not really an area for the faint-hearted to fly,” Soejatman said. “There are bound to be accidents.”