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Indonesian Military Plane Crashes, Killing All 13 Aboard

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An Indonesian military plane crashed into a mountain near Wamena, Papua, Sunday, killing all 13 people on board.

The statement from the Indonesian Air Force sent to VOA said that the Hercules C-130 plane was carrying 12 tons of food supplies from Timika to Wamena, a distance of about 200 kilometers (125 miles), and some other areas (Jayapura, Merauke, Biak) when it crashed.

The plane left Timika around 5:45 a.m. local time and was to arrive in Wamena around 6:15 a.m. local time. Just before it landed, the control tower lost contact with the plane. The plane was carrying three pilots and 10 other personnel.

The crash site on Lisuwa Mountain had been found and the bodies of the victims were being brought back to Wamena, said Ivan Ahmad Riski Titus, operational director of Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency.

Bad weather and low clouds in Wamena, the capital of the mountainous district of Jayawijaya, were believed to be factors in the crash, deputy air force chief of staff Hadiyan Sumintaatmadja told a news conference.

An investigation was underway. Sumintaatmadja said the aircraft, purchased from Australia, where it was first used in the 1980s, had more than 60 hours left until its next routine maintenance.

It was the third serious air accident in Indonesia in less than a month.

On Nov. 24, a Bell 412 EP helicopter from the Indonesian army crashed in the Indonesian part of Borneo island, killing three. A week later, a police plane with 13 people aboard crashed into the sea on the way to the island of Batam, near Singapore.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of more than 250 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents in recent years, from plane and train crashes to ferry sinkings.

The military, which suffers from low funding, has also regularly suffered airplane and helicopter crashes.

In July last year, an air force Hercules crashed into a neighborhood of Medan, Indonesia’s third largest city, killing more than 140 people including military personnel, family members traveling with them and people on the ground.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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