MEDAN: At least 116 people were killed Tuesday when an Indonesian air force transport plane crashed into a major city shortly after take-off and exploded in a fireball, officials said.
Air force chief Agus Supriatna said the manifest showed there were 113 people on board the plane — 12 crew and 101 passengers — when it crashed, and he did not believe any had survived.
“No, no. No survivors, I have just returned from the site,” he told AFP in answer to a question.
So far, 49 bodies had been recovered and taken to hospital, he said.
Many passengers were likely to be family members of servicemen and women, said a spokesman for Medan airbase from where the plane departed. At least one child has so far been confirmed killed.
The local search and rescue agency also said that three people were killed on the ground when the 51-year-old plane went down near a newly built residential area, hitting a massage parlour and a small hotel.
Police said rescuers were still trying to get into the ruined massage parlour, a three-storey building, and they did not know whether there were people inside.
A rescue operation swung into action following the crash, with ambulances ferrying bodies from the site, and crowds of anxious people gathering around a police cordon to view the smouldering wreckage.
Residents described the terrifying moment just after midday when the plane came down.
“It was very scary,” said Novi, an employee of an international school who goes by one name, describing how she heard the plane and saw it flying very low before the crash.
Another local resident Januar, 26, said the aircraft appeared to be in trouble just before the accident.
“I saw the plane from the direction of the airport and it was tilting already, then I saw smoke billowing.”
The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily