Indonesian Military Plane Crashes Into Hotel, Over 100 Feared Dead


indonesiaA Hercules C-130 military transport plane flown by the Indonesian Air Force crashed into a crowded residential area of Medan, Indonesia, on Tuesday afternoon. The North Sumatran city is the third largest in the county, with nearly 3.4 million people. Over 100 people are feared dead.

North Sumatra Police Chief Eko Hadi Sutedjo stated the plane’s manifest showed that 50 people were on board when took off. However, it has now been reported that over 100 people could have been on the plane.

As of now, 74 bodies have been extracted from the wreckage and taken to Adam Malik hospital in Medan, as stated by the Indonesian Red Cross. According to initial reports, one of the victims was a one-year-old child.

Currently, it is unclear how many of the victims were military personnel, civilians, and people who were on the ground, Stuedjo said. The hospital and the local medical examiner’s officer will begin identifying the victims and coordinating with police to notify the families of the deceased.

The military transport plane took off from Soewondo Air Force base at 12:08 p.m. local time, heading for a remote area in the Natuna Islands. Air Marshall Agus Supriatna, an official with the Indonesian Air Force, stated the pilot contacted the tower just after take off due to apparent engine trouble. According to authorities, an air traffic controller said the pilot was, “asked to return to base.”

As the plane banked right to set up for a proper landing, the plane apparently lost altitude and was seen going down in a crowded area in a residential part of Medan. Just two minutes after the plane took off, it crashed into a hotel in a crowded area three miles from the base.

“It passed overhead a few times, really low. There was fire and black smoke. The third time it came by it crashed into the roof of the hotel and exploded straight away,” said Elfrida Efi, a receptionist at the Golden Eleven Hotel, where the plane hit. The plane destroyed the area where the massage parlor was in the hotel. She said there are typically many people in that room during midday.

Supriatna told reporters, “there were 17 military personnel on the plane.” He also stated there were no survivors among the 113 that were on board.

Currently, a rescue mission is underway to extract the remaining bodies and any possible survivors, but all on board are presumed dead. Air force spokesman Dwi Badarmanto said local police and military responders are coordinating their efforts to clear the wreckage and assist medical aid to those hurt on the ground.

Local Police Chief Mardiaz Dwihananto told reporters, “The bodies were in [the] debris of the plane and buildings… we are taking the bodies one by one by ambulance to [a nearby] hospital.” He also said many of the bodies were, “crushed by debris of the building and the fuselage.”

The scene in Medan was one of chaos as bystanders were seen running through the streets to flee the disaster area. Thick clouds of black smoke of burning jet fuel filled the air near the Golden Eleven Hotel. A large portion of the wrecked fuselage now stands in the middle of the street where scores of people stood just before impact.

The Indonesian Air Force has called for a temporary grounding its remaining eight Hercules aircraft after deadly crash in case of faulty equipment. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

The plane crash in Indonesia resembles one from just a decade ago. In September 2005, a Mandala Airlines Boeing 737 crashed right after taking off from Polonia Airport. The airliner went down in another residential area in Medan, killing 143 people, including 30 more on the ground.

By Alex Lemieux


CBS News: Military plane crashes in Indonesia’s 3rd largest city

RT: Up to 113 killed as military plane crashes in residential area of Medan, Indonesia (VIDEO)

Photo Courtesy of Toby’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License