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Indonesian Airplane Crashes Into Residential Area in Medan

  • Nancy-Amelia Collins

More than 140 people are believed to have died when an Indonesian airplane crashed on take-off, plowing into a residential area in Medan, the largest city on Sumatra Island. At least six passengers are thought to have survived the wreck.

The Boeing 737-200 carrying 117 passengers and crew careened into a residential area near the perimeter of the airport and burst into flames.

The plane was operated by Mandala Airlines, a domestic airline owned in part by a foundation that is linked to the Indonesia military. It was heading from Medan in northern Sumatra to Jakarta.

The dead included passengers and several people on the ground.

Presidential spokesman Dino Djalal says, however, some passengers managed to escape the wreckage. "We received the news that there may be at least six survivors that survived the crash," he said. "That is a great miracle, and we're going to keep hoping, and we're going to keep searching for more survivors while authorities are on the site."

Dr. Amran Lubis at Medan's Pirngadi Hospital says 47 bodies had been brought to his hospital by Monday afternoon, while others had been taken to nearby facilities.

"The patients from the evacuation came to the Pirngadi hospital; all the patients have died," he said.

Local television showed firefighters trying to douse the flaming wreckage, while burning houses and cars could be seen in the background.

Transportation Minister Hatta Radjasa says the crash will be investigated. Mr. Hatta says people should not speculate, as it is too early to determine the cause of the accident.

The governor of North Sumatra and several other government officials were on the plane, on their way to a meeting in Jakarta with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

It is not clear if they are among the survivors.

It is the second commercial airliner crash in Indonesia in less than a year. On November 30 last year, 31 people died when a plane from the low-cost Lion Air skidded off a rain-slick runway in the central Java town of Solo.

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