Andi Djemma Airport officials gather data about the missing Aviastar plane in Masamba, Sulawesi. (Antara Photo/Sahrul Manda Tikupadang)

Cellphone Signal Detected From Crew Member of Missing Aviastar Plane

BY :M.K. SAID & EDI HARDUM

OCTOBER 03, 2015

Jakarta/Makassar. Police in Sulawesi were optimistic on Saturday that a missing Twin Otter plane operated by Aviastar with ten people on board could be located soon, as a signal was detected coming from the cellphone of one of the crew members.

The search effort, which was launched on Friday within hours of the plane losing contact with air traffic control, is focusing on the area around Palopo, a coastal town in South Sulawesi province.

The plane departed from Andi Djemma Airport in Masamba, in North Luwu district, at 2.25 p.m. local time on Friday and had been scheduled to arrive in Makassar at 3.39 p.m. However, the plane went missing just 11 minutes after take-off. 

Indonesia airplane missing

The plane's crew has been identified as pilot Capt. Iri Afriadi, co-pilot Yudhistira and flight engineer Sukri. They were transporting five adults (Nurul Fatimah Muhajir, Lisa Falentin, Riza Arman, M. Nasir, Sakhi Arqam) and Nurul's two young children (Raya, 3, and Afif, 1).

Air Marshall Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), said in Makassar on Saturday that officials were focusing on four sectors around Palopo of 150 square nautical miles each.

The Indonesian Military (TNI), the local police and other officials have joined the search effort.

Insp. Gen. Pudji Hartanto, the head of the South and West Sulawesi Police, on Saturday morning called on all to remain patient, adding that the cellphone signal was an important clue about the plane's location and that the search operation was already in full swing. 

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