Indonesian plane with 54 on board crashes in Papua region - officials

Trigana Air Service ATR 42 at Labuan Bajo's Komodo Airport
An Indonesian passenger plane carrying 54 people has crashed in the country’s eastern Papua region, a Transportation Ministry official has confirmed. Contact with Flight TGN267 was lost at about 0600 GMT Sunday.

"The latest information is that the Trigana aircraft that lost contact has been found at Camp 3, Ok Bape district in the Bintang Mountains regency," Air Transportation Director General Suprasetyo told reporters on Sunday, Reuters reports.

"Residents provided information that the aircraft crashed into Tangok mountain," he said.

The flight TGN267, an ATR 42 short-range airliner, was going from Sentani to Oksibil, both in Papua, and was supposed to only take 50 minutes.

The aircraft was carrying 44 adult passengers, five children and five crew members, the agency also tweeted.

According to Reuters, there were no reports on any survivors of the crash.

On Monday, officials said that rescue teams were heading to the site, where local residents had reportedly found the wreckage, AFP reported.

“The plane has been found [by villagers]. According to residents, the flight had crashed into a mountain,” said the transport ministry’s director‎-general of air transportation, Suprasetyo, as cited by AFP.

Rescue officials later said that a search plane found wreckage of the missing plane, AP reported.

The ownership record of the missing aircraft available at Planespotters.com shows that it is almost 25 years old.

Since 2007, Trigana airline has been on an EU blacklist after failing to meet safety standards. The airline, which has a current fleet of 14 aircraft, has had 14 major incidents during its 24 years of operation, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

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The search operation is hampered by darkness, poor weather and difficult terrain in the area, the state search agency's spokesperson told CNN. It is to begin at 6 a.m. local time on Monday.

Flight TGN267 was not equipped with an Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) system, which also makes tracking the aircraft difficult.

Indonesia's president pledged to review the country’s aging air force in July, following a military plane crash that left over 100 people dead.

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An aviation expert spoke to RT about the chances for the search operation.

“It really depends on the terrain, and on how good the weather is tomorrow. It sounds like they knew the flight path, and that always helps. But it could be a while before we get anything out of that area. It could take weeks,” Robert Bishop said.

Noting that Trigana Air has been on the EU blacklist for banned carriers, Bishop added: “We need to research why it was allowed to fly anywhere in the world.”