Australian police have gone to Indonesia to join the investigation into the crash of a Garuda Airlines Boeing 737 at Yogyakarta airport in Central Java Wednesday that killed 22 people.
Australia's federal police commissioner, Mick Keelty, says interviews with the two surviving pilots — who are being treated in hospital —suggest that an otherwise routine landing may have been disrupted by gusty winds. Survivors have said the plane seemed to going too fast on its final approach, and was unable to slow down as it hurtled down the runway after landing.
The jet overshot the runway and crashed through a barrier and exploded some 300 metres into a rice field,killing the 22, including four Australians.As fire engulfed the fuselage of the downed aircraft, 118 passengers managed to escape, although some suffered severe burns and other major injuries.
The nine Australians on the aircraft were diplomats, journalists and military personnel in Indonesia for a visit by the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer. He was not on the plane, and has cancelled the remainder of his trip to Indonesia to co-ordinate his country's rescue and assistance in the aftermath of the crash.
Australia has also sent doctors and emergency personnel to Yogyakarta, 440 kilometres east of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
'Human error' suspected
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyonohas askedhis security minister to look intoany "non-technical" causes for the incident, said government spokesman Andi Mallarangeng.
Garuda, Indonesia's state airline, has said preliminary indications are that the crash was caused by "human error."The plane's two black box flight recorders have been recovered and are being examined in a laboratory in Australia.
Indonesia has been plagued by a string of transportation disasters in recent months.
In December, more than 400 people died when a passenger ferry sank in a storm in the Java Sea. On New Year's Day, a passenger plane crashed into the sea, killing 102 passengers and crew.
Wednesday's airplane fire comes one day after apowerful earthquake hit Sumatra island in western Indonesia, killing at least 70 people.