Indonesian air force plane crashes in Papua during training exercise, killing 13, official says

Indonesian air force plane crashes in Papua during training exercise, killing 13, official says

Indonesian air force plane crashes in Papua during training exercise, killing 13, official says

Updated 19 December 2016, 2:30 AEDT

An Indonesian air force transport plane crashes into a mountain during a training exercise in the remote region of Papua, killing all 13 people on board, a search and rescue agency official says.

An Indonesian air force transport plane has crashed into a mountain during a training exercise in the remote region of Papua, killing all 13 people on board, a search and rescue agency official said.

The Hercules C130 plane had taken off from the city of Timika before crashing near its destination almost 200 kilometres away in Wamena, at around 6:15am (local time), said Ivan Ahmad Riski Titus, operational director of Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency.

The crash site on Lisuwa mountain had been found and the bodies of the victims were being brought back to Wamena, he said.

Air force chief of staff Agus Supriatna said the plane was carrying food supplies and cement when it crashed just minutes before its scheduled landing.

Bad weather and low clouds in Wamena, the capital of the mountainous district of Jayawijaya, were believed to be factors in the crash, 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 said.

He did not rule out that the plane hit a mountain, and an investigation is ongoing.

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

Air transport is commonly used in remote and mountainous Papua, Indonesia's easternmost province, where land travel is often impossible.

Indonesia has been plagued by transportation accidents in recent years. The military, which suffers from low funding, has regularly suffered airplane and helicopter crashes.

President Joko Widodo promised a review of the country's ageing air force fleet last year after a military transport plane crashed, killing more than 140 people, including military personnel, family members traveling with them, and people on the ground.

AP/Reuters