Indonesian plane with 54 people on board missing in remote Papua as night falls

An Indonesian twin-turboprop aircraft carrying 54 people lost contact with air traffic control on Aug. 16 in the remote, forested eastern Papua region, the National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) said, with search efforts hampered by failing light as night falls.

"We can't confirm it has crashed. We can say contact has been lost with the plane," BASARNAS chief Bambang Soelystyo told Reuters by phone. 

"It's a Trigana airline plane carrying 54 people including 5 crew. We are working to get more details." 

According to the official BASARNAS Twitter account, the aircraft, a short-haul ATR 42-300 airliner belonging to Trigana Air Service and built in France and Italy, was carrying 44 adult passengers, five crew and five children and infants. 

The plane was flying between Jayapura's Sentani Airport and Oksibil, due south of Jayapura, the capital of Papua province. 

The agency's Jayapura office was coordinating the search, a separate tweet read as dusk set in in the tropics. 

Air transport is commonly used in Papua, Indonesia's easternmost province, where land travel is often impossible. 

It was not immediately clear if search efforts would continue into the night in the densely forested mountainous region where the aircraft was travelling. 

According to the Aviation Safety Network, an online database, the ATR 42-300 had its first flight 27 years ago. ATR is a joint venture between Airbus  and Alenia Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Italian aerospace firm Finmeccanica . 

Trigana has been on the EU blacklist of banned carriers since 2007. Airlines on the list are barred from operating in European airspace due to either concerns about its safety standards, or concerns about the regulatory...

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