Indonesia says 97 killed in military plane crash


An Indonesian Lockheed Martin C130H Hercules military transport plane carrying 110 passengers and crew crashed and burst into flames in East Java this morning, killing at least 97 people including some on the ground.

The C-130 aircraft plowed into several houses on the ground, scattering debris and sending flames and billowing smoke into the air, television footage showed of the latest incident in Indonesia‘s poor air safety record.

Rustam Pakaya, the head of the health ministry’s crisis center, told Reuters by telephone 97 people had been killed and 15 injured, including some on the ground.

“Some victims are still at the crash site,” said air force spokesman Bambang Soelistyo. He said the plane, with 11 crew and 99 passengers, had crashed about 6.5 km (4 miles) from the Iswahyudi air force base in East Java while preparing to land.

National military spokesman Sagom Tamboen told a news conference the aircraft had been in good condition and the weather was clear before the crash.

The plane had been on a regular flight from Jakarta to the Iswahyudi air base in Magetan to transport military personnel and their families. It had been due to fly on to Sulawesi and Papua.

Television footage from the scene showed people desperately trying to extinguish flames with buckets of water.

“About 15 meters (50 ft) of the tail is still intact, but the body to the front is broken and burned,” said Suwardi, a sub-district head in Magetan.

“Earlier we heard blasts. But not anymore, now the plane is still on fire,” added Suwardi, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. He said that the crash took place at about 6:30am and the site was difficult to reach because it was on the fringe of a rice field.

The crash site is near the border of the districts of Madiun and Magetan in East Java, about 150 km (90 miles) southwest of Indonesia‘s second-biggest city of Surabaya.

Agus Yulianto, an eyewitness, told the Kompas newspaper website ( the plane appeared to tilt in the air and objects rained down from the aircraft before it crashed.

“Some things were falling, like bolts and axle nuts from the plane. The plane kept nosediving and finally crashed on two houses,” said Yulianto.

Purwanto, a survivor of the disaster, told Metro TV that the plane crashed and then later exploded. He was speaking from a hospital bed with his head heavily bandaged.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged people not to jump to conclusions before an investigation was completed.

“Don’t quickly decide this accident is because of this or that, whether it’s the machine, the weather, human error or another factor,” Yudhoyono told a business forum in Jakarta.

Separately, Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono told reporters that maintenance should be 20 to 25 percent of the military budget but was below 10 percent due to limited resources.

Former air force chief Chappy Hakim told Reuters the plane that crashed was U.S.-made and built in the 1980s.

Indonesia has a poor record of air safety and maintenance and has suffered a string of accidents in recent years affecting both commercial and military aircraft.

Last month, 24 military personnel and crew died after a military Fokker 28 aircraft carrying parachute trainees crashed into a hangar at a base in West Java.

In recent years there have also been a series of deadly crashes involving commercial passenger planes. Indonesian airlines are currently banned from European Union airspace over safety concerns.