Indonesian rescuers reach crash site, plane ‘destroyed': official

Rescuers Tuesday reached the site in remote eastern Indonesia where a plane crashed carrying 54 people and large sums of money, and found the aircraft "completely destroyed", a search and rescue official said. "Our rescuers have reached the crash site," Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency, told AFP, adding they arrived at the location in Papua province at 9:30 am (0030 GMT). "The plane has crashed, it is completely destroyed." "Everything was in pieces and part of the plane is burnt. We could see burn marks on some pieces," he said. He said rescuers were still looking for survivors at the site, which is in dense forest in a mountainous area, but the chances of finding anyone alive were "slim". Soelistyo added rescuers were also hunting for the plane's flight data recorders, known as black boxes, which should shed light on what caused the accident. The plane operated by Indonesian carrier Trigana Air lost contact Sunday as it flew in bad weather … [Read more...]

Japan’s surviving WWII soldiers fight for peace

Former Japanese fighter pilot Kaname Harada, 98, holds his portrait taken when he was young as he tells his experience during World War II at his home in Nagano, Nagano Prefecture Digging with his bare hands to escape the jungle tomb of his plane shot down by US forces in Guadalcanal in 1942, Japanese fighter pilot Kaname Harada understood the full horror of war. Pinned beneath the wreckage in the Solomon Islands during some of the most intense fighting of World War II, he fought to dig himself free. "All of my fingernails came off and I could see the bones, but I dug and dug to survive," he said. "When I got out of the plane I was very thirsty and crawled to a puddle where I drank water full of maggots and insects." Now just days from his 99th birthday, he and other men who fought Japan's hopeless Pacific War worry that a country in the throes of re-invigorating its military has forgotten the true terror of conflict. Despite his advanced age, Harada regularly gives talks about … [Read more...]

Probe of suspected MH370 plane part begins in France

Experts in France began examining a washed-up plane part Wednesday which likely belonged to the MH370 plane that vanished mysteriously last year, hoping to find clues to one of aviation's greatest enigmas. The Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared on March 8 last year, inexplicably veering off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, sparking a colossal but ultimately fruitless multinational hunt for the aircraft. But last week's discovery of a two-metre-long (almost seven-foot) wing part called a flaperon on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion raised fresh hopes for relatives desperate for answers. French and Malaysian experts including Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the head of the Asian country's civil aviation watchdog, arrived at a laboratory in the southern French city of Toulouse on Wednesday for the tests. A judicial source said the examination of the wing part began shortly afterwards. French, Malaysian and Australian experts, Boeing … [Read more...]

World hopes for first clues to MH370 mystery

PARIS – Technical experts in France were to begin examining a washed-up plane part on Wednesday that almost certainly belonged to missing flight MH370, raising hopes that some light may finally be shed on one of aviation's darkest mysteries. The Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared on March 8 last year when it inexplicably veered off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, and a colossal multinational hunt for the aircraft proved fruitless. But last week's discovery of a two-metre-long wing part called a flaperon on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion raised fresh hopes for relatives desperate for answers. The Boeing 777 piece has been taken to the south-western French city of Toulouse, where it will undergo the high-profile examination. The case containing the wing part will be opened early afternoon Wednesday, said a French source close to the case, in the presence of French and Malaysian experts, Boeing employees and representatives … [Read more...]

Over 100 feared dead after Indonesia military plane crashes

More than 100 people were feared dead after a military transport plane ploughed into a residential area shortly after take-off in northern Indonesia on Tuesday, in what may be the deadliest accident yet for an air force with a long history of crashes. "For the moment we know there were 113 people (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 passengers were air force families. The crash of the aircraft, a C-130B Hercules aircraft that went into service half a century ago, is bound to put a fresh spotlight onIndonesia's woeful air safety record and its ageing planes. Officials said the plane plunged into a built-up area of Medan, one of Indonesia's largest cities. Eye witnesses said it appeared to explode shortly before it smashed into houses and a hotel. An official at a nearby hospital who declined to be named said that 55 bodies had been brought in so far. Black smoke … [Read more...]

More than 100 feared dead after Indonesian military plane crashes

Indonesian security forces and firefighters search through the wreckage of an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules transport plane after it crashed into a residential area in the North Sumatra city of Medan, Indonesia, June 30, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Roni Bintang More than 100 people were feared dead after a military transport plane ploughed into a residential area shortly after take-off in northern Indonesia on Tuesday, in what may be the deadliest accident yet for an air force with a long history of crashes. "For the moment we know there were 113 people (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 passengers were air force families. The crash of the C-130B Hercules aircraft, which went into service half a century ago, is bound to put a fresh spotlight on Indonesia's woeful air safety record and its ageing planes. Officials said the plane plunged into a built-up area of the Sumatra … [Read more...]

‘Nearly half’ of MH17’s wreckage still in Ukraine

A top pro-Russian rebel said Wednesday that nearly half the wreckage of the Malaysia Airline jet shot down over Ukraine last year remain strewn across fields controlled by the separatists. Insurgency leader Andrei Purgin said about 40 percent of the plane's charred parts were left behind by international investigators and recovery teams. Kiev and its Western allies accuse the militants of accidentally shooting down the Boeing 777 liner after mistaking it for a Ukrainian jet. All 298 passengers and crew who boarded the Kuala Lumpur-bound flight MH17 in Amsterdam were killed. The rebels and Moscow accuse the Ukrainian military of shooting the jet out of the sky in a seeming bid to damage the separatists fighters and Russia's global reputation. Purgin said that "a huge part of the plane's wreckage was left behind." The investigators "assured us they do not need those parts," he was quoted as saying by the rebels' official news site. International teams have collected body … [Read more...]

Air traffic control disabled briefly at Vietnam’s busiest airport; interference suspected

Many flights were unable to take off or land at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City as the air traffic control (ATC) system there was down for nearly 20 minutes on Tuesday morning. The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper the same day the incident occurred at 7:47 am and lasted for 18 minutes. "The ground service personnel could contact none of the planes that were about to land or take off during that time," CAAV chief Lai Xuan Thanh said. The aviation watchdog is still working to figure out the cause of the incident, Thanh added. The general director of a carrier told Tuoi Tre a couple of flights operated by his airline failed to leave or arrive at the airport after 8:00 am. The affected flights had to fly around waiting for contact to resume, or land at an alternative airport. The Jetstar Pacific flight BL 591 departing from the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang had to land at Buon Me Thuot airport in … [Read more...]

15 killed when TransAsia plane crashes into Taiwan river

A Taiwanese flight with 58 people turned on its side in midair, clipped an elevated roadway and careened into a river Wednesday shortly after takeoff from the island's capital of Taipei, killing at least 15 people, local media and officials said. Rescuers pull a passenger out of the TransAsia Airways plane which crash landed in a river, in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015. Photo by Reuters. The death toll in the TransAsia Airways flight was expected to rise as rescue crews cleared the mostly sunken fuselage in the Keelung River a couple dozen meters (yards) from the shore. Teams of rescuers in rubber rafts clustered around the wreckage. The ATR 72 prop-jet aircraft was flying on its side, with one wing scraping past Taiwan's National Freeway No. 1 just seconds before it plunged into the river, local television images showed. It was the airline's second French-Italian-built ATR 72 to crash in the past year. Wednesday's flight had taken off from Taipei's downtown Sungshan … [Read more...]

At least 23 killed when TransAsia plane crashes into Taiwan river

A Taiwanese flight carrying 58 people banked sharply onto its side, clipped a highway bridge and careened into a shallow river Wednesday shortly after taking off from Taipei, killing at least 23 people and leaving 20 missing, officials said. Rescuers pull a passenger out of the TransAsia Airways plane which crash landed in a river, in New Taipei City, February 4, 2015. Photo by Reuters. Fifteen people were rescued with injuries. More than half of the passengers aboard TransAsia Airways Flight GE235 were from China and the death toll was expected to rise as rescue crews cleared the mostly submerged fuselage in the Keelung River. Teams in rubber rafts clustered around the wreckage, several dozen meters (yards) from the shore. Dramatic video clips apparently taken from cars were posted online and aired by broadcasters, showing the ATR 72 propjet as it pivoted onto its side while zooming toward a traffic bridge over the river. In one of them, the plane rapidly fills the frame as … [Read more...]

Indonesia says no evidence so far of terrorism in AirAsia crash

Indonesian policemen and rescue members carry a coffin of a passenger, who was onboard AirAsia Flight QZ8501, into a CN2950 airplane belonging to the Indonesian airforce at the Iskandar airbase in Pangkalan Bun, January 19, 2015. Photo credit: Reuters Indonesian investigators said on Monday they had found no evidence so far that terrorism played a part in the crash of an AirAsia passenger jet last month that killed all 162 people on board. Andreas Hananto told Reuters that his team of 10 investigators at the National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) had found "no threats" in the cockpit voice recordings to indicate foul play during AirAsia Flight QZ8501. The Airbus A320-200 vanished from radar screens on Dec. 28, less than halfway into a two-hour flight from Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were no survivors. When asked if there was any evidence from the recording that terrorism was involved, Hananto said: "No. Because if there were terrorism, … [Read more...]

Indonesia investigators say no evidence so far of terrorism in AirAsia crash

Indonesian investigators said on Monday they had not found any evidence so far that terrorism was involved in the crash of an AirAsia passenger jet last month that killed all 162 people on board. Andreas Hananto told Reuters that his team of 10 investigators at the National Transportation Safety Committee had found "no threats" in the cockpit voice recordings to indicate foul play during AirAsia Flight QZ8501. The Airbus A320-200 vanished from radar screens on Dec. 28, less than halfway into a two-hour flight from Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were no survivors. When asked if there was any evidence from the recording that terrorism was involved, Hananto said: "No. Because if there were terrorism, there would have been a threat of some kind." "In that critical situation, the recording indicates that the pilot was busy with the handling of the plane." Investigators said they had listened to the whole of the recording but transcribed only … [Read more...]

AirAsia cockpit voice recorder found – Indonesian officials

Divers in the Java Sea have retrieved the cockpit voice recorder from the crashed AirAsia flight QZ8501, say officials. The retrieval comes a day after the first piece of the so-called black box, the flight data recorder, was also found and brought to shore. The aircraft with 162 people on board disappeared between Surabaya in Indonesia and Singapore on 28 December. The two devices will help investigators understand more about what went wrong. Forty-eight bodies have been recovered so far, but most of the victims are believed to still be inside the fuselage, which has not been found. Pilot conversations The voice recorder was retrieved from underneath heavy wreckage of a wing from a depth of about 30 metres (98 feet) early morning on Tuesday, said Tonny Budiono, sea navigation director at the Transportation Ministry. "This is good news for investigators to reveal the cause of the plane crash," he said. Santoso Sayogo, from the National Transportation Safety Committee, also … [Read more...]

Indonesia confident AirAsia fuselage discovered, zero in on black box

he tail of AirAsia QZ8501 passenger plane is seen on the deck of the Indonesian Search and Rescue (BASARNAS) ship Crest Onyx after it was lifted from the seabed, in the waters of Kumai, Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan January 11, 2015. Photo credit: Reu Indonesian search teams believe they have found the fuselage of an AirAsia airliner that crashed in the Java Sea two weeks ago, and divers hope calmer waters on Monday will allow them to retrieve the black box flight recorders. Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control in bad weather on Dec. 28, less than halfway into a two-hour flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. None of the 162 people on the aircraft survived. Searchers have also been hearing pings, believed to be from the aircraft's two black boxes near where the tail of the Airbus A320-200 aircraft tail was raised on Saturday. Supriyadi, operations coordinator for the National Search and Rescue Agency, said on Sunday a sonar … [Read more...]

Indonesian searchers believe crashed AirAsia’s fuselage found

The tail of AirAsia QZ8501 passenger plane is seen on the deck of the Indonesian Search and Rescue (BASARNAS) ship Crest Onyx after it was lifted from the sea bed, in the Java Sea January 10, 2015 Indonesian search teams believe a sonar scan has detected the fuselage of an AirAsia airliner that crashed two weeks ago with the loss of all 162 people on board and divers were on Sunday checking the find, a senior official said. Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control during thundery weather on Dec. 28, less than halfway into a two-hour flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were no survivors. Searchers have also been hearing pings, believed to be from the aircraft's black box flight recorders, near where the tail of the Airbus A320-200 aircraft tail was raised on Saturday. Supriyadi, operations coordinator for the National Search and Rescue Agency, said a sonar scan had revealed an object measuring 10 metres by four metres by 2.5 … [Read more...]

Search crews recover AirAsia bodies

Recovery teams have narrowed the search area for AirAsia Flight 8501, hopeful they were closing in on the plane's crash site, with a total of 30 bodies and more debris recovered from the sea. French and Singaporean investigators joined the hunt for the Airbus A320-200, which disappeared from radar during a storm Sunday en route from Indonesia's second city of Surabaya to Singapore with 162 people on board. The search teams have deployed side-scan sonar equipment to survey the seabed and pinger locators to fine-tune their search for the plane's black boxes, crucial to determining the why the plane crash into the Java Sea off Borneo. Rough weather has in recent days hampered the search for the plane's fuselage, which is believed to be in relatively shallow water of around 25-32 metres. Search and rescue agency chief Bambang Soelistyo said the operation was focused on an area of 1575 square nautical miles -- a tenth of the size of Thursday's search -- with 29 ships and 17 … [Read more...]

Searchers hopeful in AirAsia search

Indonesian recovery teams narrowed the search area for AirAsia Flight 8501 Friday, hopeful they were closing in on the plane's crash site, with a total of 16 bodies and more debris recovered from the sea. An Indonesian search and rescue team carry the body of a victim recovered from wreckage of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, in Pangkalan Bun, in Central Kalimantan on January 2, 2015. French and Singaporean investigators with equipment for detecting the signal from the plane's black boxes were set to join the hunt for the Airbus A320-200, which disappeared from radar during a storm Sunday en route from Indonesia's second city of Surabaya to Singapore. The plane crashed in the shallow waters of the Java Sea off Borneo but rough weather and high seas have hampered the search forthe fuselage and the bodies of the 162 passengers and crew. Search and rescue agency chief chief Bambang Soelistyo said Friday's search was focused on an area of 1,575 nautical square miles, with 29 ships and 17 … [Read more...]

Search area for AirAsia jet narrowed, 16 bodies found

Indonesian recovery teams narrowed the search area for AirAsia flight QZ8501 Friday, hopeful they were closing in on the plane's crash site, with a total of 16 bodies and more debris recovered from the sea. French and Singaporean investigators with equipment for detecting the signal from the plane's black boxes were set to join the hunt for the Airbus A320-200, which disappeared from radar during a storm Sunday en route from Indonesia's second city of Surabaya to Singapore. The plane crashed in the shallow waters of the Java Sea off Borneo but rough weather and high seas have hampered the search for the fuselage and the bodies of the 162 passengers and crew. Search and rescue agency chief chief Bambang Soelistyo said today's search was focused on an area of 1,575 nautical square miles, with 29 ships and 17 aircraft engaged in the operation. It is a tenth the size of yesterday's search, which covered an area of 13,500 nautical square miles. "There are two main tasks in this … [Read more...]

Weather stalls search for AirAsia black boxes; first victim buried

A crewmember of an Indonesian Air Force Super Puma helicopter of 6th Air Squadron uses a binocular to scan the horizon during a search operation for the victims of AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 over the Java Sea January 1, 2015. Photo credit: Reuters Heavy seas stopped divers reaching the possible wreck of an AirAsia Indonesia jet off Borneo on Thursday and an aviation official said it could be a week before the black box flight recorders are found. Nine bodies have so far been recovered from the Airbus A320-200, which crashed on Sunday en route to Singapore from the Indonesian city of Surabaya with 162 people on board. The bodies were brought in numbered coffins to Surabaya where relatives have gathered for identification. AirAsia Indonesia's CEO Sunu Widyatmoko was seen weeping when authorities handed over the body of the first victim, Hayati Luthfiah Hamid, to family members at a Surabaya hospital. Relatives lower the coffin containing the body of Hayati Lutfiah, a passenger of … [Read more...]

First AirAsia bodies arrive at airport as bad weather hampers recovery

Soldiers acting as pall bearers Wednesday carried coffins containing the first two bodies from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 into Surabaya airport, from where the ill-fated plane departed, as sombre relatives gave their DNA to help identify loved ones. The bodies were taken from an air force plane to a military ambulance to be transported to a hospital for examination and identification -- but many exhausted families were left waiting for news as bad weather hampered search efforts. Officials had hoped to recover most of the bodies but rough conditions made it difficult for helicopters to fly over the area in the Java Sea where several corpses and debris from the Airbus A320-200 were found a day earlier. In Indonesia's second-biggest city Surabaya, where the plane had departed for Singapore early on Sunday, drained and emotional relatives of the 162 people on board gathered at a crisis centre to hand over documents and medical records. Among them was Hadi Widjaja, 60, who was … [Read more...]