Military Helicopter crashes in Papua with 12 officials onboard

Military Helicopter crashes in Papua with 12 officials onboard

Jakarta: An Indonesian military helicopter with 12 people on board lost contact with air traffic control Friday just minutes after takeoff, an official said.

The Mi-17 chopper was en route from Oksibil, in easternmost Papua province to Sentani, also in Papua.

All passengers on board were military crew and the aircraft was carrying logistical supplies, Papua military spokesman Muhammad Aidi said.

It took off at 11:44 am Friday local time and was supposed to land in Sentani 1.5 hours later.

"The plane originally took off in Okbibab district, but it had to refuel in Oksibil," Aidi said.

The weather was reported to be good at the time of takeoff but routes in the rugged area are subject to rapid and extreme weather changes.

Search and rescue teams have been deployed to look for the chopper.

Indonesia relies heavily on air transport to connect its thousands of islands, but mountainous Papua is a particularly difficult area to reach.

Last August, eight people died when a Swiss-made Pilatus aircraft crashed on a forested mountainside in Papua. A 12-year-old boy was the sole survivor. -APP/AFP