JAKARTA. — At least 113 people aboard an Indonesian air force C-130 were killed when the plane crashed in a residential neighbourhood in the city of Medan on the northern island of Sumatra, according to military officials.
The plane came down yesterday hitting empty residential buildings after bursting into flames shortly after take- off.
There were 12 crew members and 101 passengers on board the plane, the AFP news agency reported, citing officials who spoke to local television.
At least three other people are believed to have been killed on the ground. So far, rescuers have recovered 49 bodies.
The Hercules transport plane was on its way from an air force base in Medan to Tanjung Pinang in Sumatra.
Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker said the dead included civilian relatives of military personnel.
“This was a C-130 military aircraft on a routine trip, carrying soldiers and their families,” she said.
Our correspondent said that two minutes into the flight, the pilot radioed in, saying there was a “technical issue” with the plane.
“He tried to turn back and then the plane went down over Medan. The plane went down in a populated area, hitting two empty buildings. That number could have been much higher.”
She said that questions were now raised as to the safety of the plane, which was built in 1964.
The Indonesian military has now opened an official investigation to try and figure out what went wrong. The government has grounded all C-130 aircraft while the investigation is ongoing.
Speaking shortly after the crash, Mardiaz Dwihananto, police chief of Medan city, said several bodies had been recovered from the wreckage.
“The bodies were in (the) debris of the plane and buildings . . . We are taking the bodies one-by-one by ambulance to Adam Malik hospital. We haven’t managed to evacuate all of the bodies,” Dwihananto said.
Local radio station, El Shinta, said earlier that the aircraft had hit homes, but it was not immediately clear if anyone inside had been killed or injured.
Military spokesman, Fuad Basya, said the plane took off at around midday local time from an air force base carrying military equipment and crashed in the city about two minutes later, about 5km from the base.
It is the second time in 10 years that a plane has crashed into a Medan neighbourhood. — Al Jazeera/Agencies.