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7 Mar, 2007 23:18

Indonesian plane crash: 23 dead, 115 survive

Indonesian plane crash: 23 dead, 115 survive

Relatives of those on board a plane which burst into flames on landing in Indonesia are anxiously awaiting news of their loved ones. A total of 23 people were killed in the fire, but at least 115 survived the tragedy.

The Indonesian president has ordered a thorough investigation into the crash of the Garuda Airlines passenger jet.

On Thursday, investigators combed the site, looking for clues as to what caused the incident.

Survivors say the plane appeared to be going too fast during landing.

According to witnesses the Garuda airlines plane overshot the runway before the fire broke out.

It was landing at Yogyakarta having come from Jakarta. Local news agencies report the incident happened around 7 am local time. Some passengers were able to walk away from the burning plane, while others needed help.

“I heard two explosions and I pulled four victims out of the plane and they were safe. About 30 people were also gathered outside the plane. They were safe too,” said one of the passengers.

An airline spokesperson says the plane’s manifest listed 133 passengers as well as a number of crew on board.

A number of Australian diplomatic staff and journalists were among this number and it's believed at least 2 of these have been killed.

Earlier  Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard said there had been a significant loss of life and warned Australia to brace itself for bad news.

I've given authority for any aircraft, medical assistance, and the like that is needed not only for the Australians, but for others involved in the accident, to be made available immediately,” he said.

The Australians were traveling to Yogyakarta in connection with this week’s visit to Indonesia by Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer.

Garuda Airlines is Indonesia’s largest carrier and counts itself among the world’s 30 biggest airlines.

This is Indonesia’s second major plane disaster this year.

In January an Adam Air plane disappeared with 102 on board.

A special commission is looking to address these pressing safety concerns.