(From AFP)

Money — some of it burnt — was found on Tuesday among the wreckage of a plane that crashed in eastern Indonesia Sunday, but no bodies have yet been retrieved as recovery efforts were suspended for the day.

The wreckage from Trigana Air ATR 42-300 twin-turboprop scattered among trees in the mountainous area of Oksibil district, in Papua
The wreckage from Trigana Air ATR 42-300 twin-turboprop scattered among trees in the mountainous area of Oksibil district, Papua

The plane, which had been transporting 6.5 billion rupiah ($470,000) in cash, was on Tuesday found “completely destroyed” with the bodies of all 54 passengers and crew strewn amid the wreckage in a fire-blackened jungle clearing, officials said.

The black box flight data recorders, which could provide clues about the cause of the crash, have been retrieved.

 The money on the plane, which was being carried in four bags by postal officials, was government social assistance funds to be distributed to poor families in the remote community of Oksibil where the plane had been heading.

Bambang Soelistyo, head of the country’s search and rescue agency, did not say how much money had been found. He said he had instructed the rescuers to hand all items recovered, including the money, to the authorities.

Efforts to retrieve the dead were suspended Tuesday afternoon due to thick fog with none of the bodies yet recovered, Soelistyo told reporters in Jayapura, Papua’s capital. A fresh attempt would be made Wednesday.

Rescuers finally reached the debris of the Trigana Air plane, which went down Sunday in Papua province during a short flight in bad weather, after abandoning search efforts a day earlier due to mountainous terrain, thick fog and rain.

“The plane has crashed, it is completely destroyed,” Soelistyo, said of the ATR 42-300 plane after teams reached the site in the morning.

“Everything was in pieces and part of the plane is burnt.”

Photos of the site showed a fire-blackened clearing in thick jungle strewn with debris. The twin-turboprop plane was carrying 54 people — 49 passengers and five crew — and officials said all the bodies had been found.

The team of about 100 rescuers, including soldiers and police, who reached the crash site found some bodies were not intact, while others were badly burnt.

The harsh conditions meant the authorities were planning to lift the bodies from the site by helicopter, the search and rescue agency said.

The plane had set off from Jayapura on what was supposed to be a 45-minute flight to Oksibil.

But it lost contact with air traffic control about 10 minutes before reaching its destination, soon after the crew requested permission to start descending in heavy cloud and rain to land.

Captain Beni Sumaryanto, Trigana Air’s service director of operations, said “unpredictable weather and mountainous terrain” had likely caused the accident, adding that the plane was in good condition and the pilot experienced.

Small aircraft are commonly used for transport in remote and mountainous Papua and bad weather has caused several accidents in recent years.

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