Papuan airspace, including in Wamena, is one the most dangerous in Indonesia, due to mountainous landscape and changeable weather. (Antara Photo/Indrianto Eko Suwarso)

Rescue Team Dispatched to Wamena Plane Crash Site

JULY 06, 2017

Jakarta. A search and rescue team was dispatched on Thursday morning (06/07) to the crash site of a Pilatus PC6 Porter aircraft that went missing in mountains near Wamena, the capital city of Jayawijaya district in Papua, a day earlier.

"A ground team was dispatched from Wamena at 5.30 a.m., carrying various equipment," Jayapura SAR Chief Melkianus Kotta told state news agency Antara.

The team will have to drive for around 15 kilometers and then continue on foot to reach a cliff where the plane had crashed.

Associated Mission Aviation (AMA), a Catholic pioneering airline in Papua that operated the missing airplane, managed to pinpoint the crash site using a search airplane, making use of two hours of fair weather on Wednesday afternoon.

"The aircraft was spotted at 8,500 feet (2,590 meters) above sea level... about eight minutes from Wamena," AMA director Djarot Soetanto told reporters on Wednesday night.

A spokesman from the Papua Police, Ahmad Mustofa Kamal, said the search and rescue team decided against landing on the crash site in a helicopter after the search airplane spotted the location, especially since the weather quickly deteriorated.

SAR's Melkianus said the weather remains forbidding on Thursday for another attempt to approach the site by air.

The Pilatus PC6 Porter was reported missing eight minutes after take-off from Wamena at 11.08 a.m local time on Wednesday during a supposedly short flight to Darakama.

The aircraft was carrying five passengers and 508 kilograms of cargo.

Flying is the only feasible way to reach many areas in mountainous Papua. But every plane journey in the island comes with great risks due to its volatile weather.