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Airplane crash kills 141 in Indonesia JAKARTA - An Indonesian jetliner crashed in a crowded residential neighborhood in the city of Medan shortly after takeoff Monday, killing 141 people, including 30 on the ground. Six passengers survived, officials said. The Mandala Airlines Boeing 737 was heading to Jakarta in overcast weather when it crashed seconds after takeoff, bursting into flames and sending thick clouds of black smoke high into the air.

Firefighters struggled to put out the blaze, which engulfed dozens of houses and at least 10 cars, but were assisted by a midmorning rain storm. The plane was carrying 117 passengers and crew, but "only six people survived," said Alex Widjojo, a spokesman for the airline, contradicting earlier reports that aboard had died.

Zainul Tahar, who is coordinating the search and rescue efforts, said 30 residents on the ground were killed. Hospitals in the city were treating at least a dozen injured residents, officials said. The flight's six survivors were all sitting in the back of the plane, said Rohadi Sitepu, a passenger. "We were gaining height and the landing gear was being retracted" when the crash occurred, Sitepu told Metro TV. "I was thrown to the ground and escaped through a hole in the fuselage. I ran and ran because I was worried there would be an explosion."

Hundreds of policemen, paramedics and residents tried to evacuate victims, but Syahrial Anas, a doctor overseeing the removal of charred bodies, said flames and the thousands of people wanting to visit the crash site were hampering efforts. "We're having a hard time getting to the bodies, because of the heat," Anas told The Associated Press.

Monday's crash follows five major airline accidents in August, the deadliest month for plane disasters since May 2002. Some 334 people died in accidents in Peru, Venezuela, Greece and Tunisia last month. A plane also overshot a runway in Toronto and caught fire; no one died. At the airport in Jakarta, dozens of relatives and friends of those killed cried upon hearing the news.

"I am waiting for my mother but Mandala just said that the plane crashed and she was on board," said Aryati, weeping as she spoke. "Her name has appeared on a list of victims on TV." The dead included the governor of North Sumatra province, who was heading to the capital for a meeting with the president.

Medan, the country's third-largest city, has been a major staging point for tsunami relief operations in Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra island. The international airport is close to the center of town and is surrounded by densely populated residential areas.


Link to related event Related event:
Mandala plane crash


Posted in General @ 05 September 2005 12:49 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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