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Search is under way for missing Indonesia passenger plane carrying 10 people

By Valerie Edwards

A passenger plane carrying ten people, including three infants, has gone missing over Indonesia.

Family and friends of the missing passengers are awaiting news on the whereabouts of the Twin Otter plane that went missing and some have arrived at the local airport to identify their loved ones.

Zulkarnain (22) is one of the family members of passengers Nural Fatin (29), and two toddlers Raya (3) and Afif (1).

The names of the crew and other passengers have also been released.

Members of the crew are, Captain Irifriadi, co-pilot Yudistira Febb, and engineer Soekris Winarto.

Other passengers include Lisa Falentin, Muhamad Natsir, Riza Arman Iskandar and Sakhi Arqari.

The head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency confirmed an Aviastar Twin Otter DHC-6 plane lost contact about 30 minutes after taking off from the Masamba airport in North Luwu. The plane was travelling to the provincial capital Makassar.

Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said: "We are still confirming the area where the flight went missing. It was around 60 nautical miles from Makassar."

Crews are searching for the plane along its flight path from Masamba to Makassar, which is normally a 70-minute flight.

The plane, owned by Aviastar Mandiri airlines, is thought to have gone missing in eastern Indonesia and disappeared at an altitude of 8,000 feet. A rescue team has been sent to search for the aircraft on the island of Sulawesi.

Deputy chief of operations of the national search and rescue agency, Heronimus Guru, said all passengers and crew were Indonesian, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Chief operations spokesman Deden Ridwansyah believes the planes is still in the Masamba area.

Mr Ridwansyah told The Sydney Morning Herald: "Since the lost contact happened not too long after take off, we believe the plane is still in the Masamba area. We are coordinating with local authorities to gather information such as if any locals saw the plane."

He said the weather was quite clear at the time but there was strong wind in the area.

Aviastar Mandiri, which mainly offers domestic flights, has been banned from operating in the European Union because of its safety record. Indonesia has 59 of 63 airlines banned from flying in the EU as well.

The Aviation Safety Network has four accidents and incidents listed for the Aviastar Mandiri, three of those accidents involve Twin Otter planes.

In 2009, a Twin Otter 300 turboprop plane flew into the side of a mountain killing three and earlier that year a British Aerospace plane also flew into a mountainside killing six crew.

Indonesia has been plagued by transportation accidents in recent years, including plane and train crashes and ferry sinkings.

It's one of Asia's most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to obtain qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology.

The incident comes 18 months after Malaysia Airlines plane MH370 went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board and a wing from the aircraft was discovered on a remote Indian Ocean late this summer.

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