A RUSSIAN Sukhoi Superjet 100 with about 50 people on board has gone missing in a mountainous area of Indonesia during a demonstration flight yesterday.
The plane disappeared from radar screens 50 minutes into what was meant to be a brief flight and rescue teams were headed in vehicles and on foot towards Salak mountain, where the plane went missing.
“We suspect the plane crashed, but we’re not yet certain,” rescue chief Marsdya Daryatmo told reporters several hours after the disappearance.
“We tried to send two helicopters to search for the plane… but because of bad weather and strong winds they had to return. We will send them out again tomorrow,” he said.
There were scenes of grief at the airport, with relatives of some passengers sitting on luggage carousels weeping uncontrollably as they waited on tenterhooks for more information about the missing plane.
Yanny Mariana’s eyes welled up with tears as she told reporters that one of her four friends on the flight had called her in a panic.
He had earlier told her the plane would fly above the city of Bandung and be back in Jakarta in under an hour.
“But at around 3:00 pm he called me in a panic and I was worried because I knew it shouldn’t take that long to fly to Bandung and back,” she said.
Reports of the exact number on board varied slightly, with local rescue officials saying it was carrying 46 people and Trimarga Rekatama, the company responsible for inviting the passengers, saying 50 were on board.