At least 100people were killed when a military transport plane crashed into a residential area shortly after take-off in northern Indonesia on Tuesday , June 30, but the toll looked set to rise after it emerged that more than 100 people had been on board.
“It looks like there are no survivors,” Air Marshal Agus Supriatna told Metro TV in the Sumatra city of Medan, adding that some of the 113 passengers were air force families.
The figure is an update of comments by military spokesman Fuad Basya, who was earlier quoted by broadcaster MetroTV as saying there had been 12 crew and about 50 passengers on board.
Officials said the plane plunged into a built-up area of the Sumatra city of Medan. Eye witnesses said it had appeared to explode shortly before it smashed into houses and a hotel.
Black smoke billowed from the wreckage and crowds of people milling around the area initially hampered emergency services rushing to the scene.
The Hercules transport plane was on its way from an air force base in Medan to Tanjung Pinang in Sumatra.
Local television showed a neighbourhood of houses and hotels in flames and black smoke billowing from the area.
According to the Aviation Safety Network , there have been 10 fatal crashes involving Indonesian military or police aircraft over the last decade.
The accidents put under a spotlight the safety record of Indonesia’s aviation and its ageing commercial and military aircraft. Military spokesman Fuad Basya has said the plane that crashed on Tuesday was built in 1964.
“It’s too early to say what caused today’s disaster, but it will again raise concerns about air safety in Indonesia, especially since it comes just half a year after the crash of QZ8501,” said Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor at Flightglobal, an aviation industry data and news service.
The Indonesian air force has now lost four C-130s, reducing its transport reach in an archipelagic country that stretches more than 5,000 km from its western to eastern tips.
Air force spokesman Dwi Badarmanto said it was unclear what caused the crash and, until it was, eight other C-130Bs would be grounded.
Although Indonesia accounted for nearly one-fifth of defence spending by Southeast Asian countries last year, as a percentage of GDP it was the lowest in the region at 0.8 percent, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute data.
“It passed overhead a few times, really low,” said Elfrida Efi, a receptionist at the Golden Eleven Hotel.
President Joko Widodo, who took office last year, has said he plans to double military spending to $15 billion by 2020.
However, the transport plane accident could bring pressure on the president to spend more on modernising the air force.
“The Hercules is already old, many of our other (weapons) systems are already old. As parliament we will support giving more funding to the military so that they can upgrade,” he added.