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Indonesian military plane crashes in Papua, killing 13

An Indonesian military plane has crashed in Papua's easternmost province, killing all 13 people on board.

Air force chief of staff Agus Supriatna told MetroTV the Hercules C-130 transport plane was carrying 12 tons of food supplies and cement from Timika to Wamena, a distance of about 125 miles, when it crashed minutes before its scheduled landing.

He said bad weather was suspected to have caused the crash. The plane was carrying three pilots and 10 other personnel.

TV footage showed rescuers and local people bringing out the victims from the wreckage of the plane.

The plane took off from Timika at 5.35am local time and crashed about four minutes before it was due to land in Wamena, the capital of the mountainous district of Jayawijaya.

It is the third serious air accident in Indonesia in less than a month. On November 24 a Bell 412 EP helicopter from the Indonesian army crashed in the Indonesian part of Borneo island, killing three.

A week later, a police plane with 13 people aboard crashed into the sea on the way to the island of Batam, near Singapore.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of more than 250 million people, has been plagued by transport accidents in recent years, from plane and train crashes to ferry sinkings.

The military, which suffers from low funding, has also suffered regular plane and helicopter crashes.

In July last year, an air force Hercules crashed into a neighbourhood of Medan, Indonesia's third largest city, killing more than 140 people including military staff, family members travelling with them and people on the ground.

AP

Deputy air force chief of staff Hadiyan Sumintaatmadja told a news conference: "The tower in Wamena has spotted the plane, but it was not certain that the plane saw the runway."

He did not rule out the possibility of the plane hitting a mountain.

The aircraft, purchased from Australia where it was first used in the 1980s, had more than 60 hours left until the next routine maintenance, he added.

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