A passenger plane carrying 27 people crashed Saturday as it was about to land in Indonesia's eastern province of West Papua, killing at least 15, officials said.

Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said the Chinese-made Xian MA60 twin turboprop, belonging to a state-owned company, went down just before landing in Kaimana. The flight originated in Sorong, another town in the province.

Police Lt. Col. Antonius Wantri Julianto said 15 bodies have been found and rescuers are searching for other victims.

Nuno Sampurno, chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency, said the plane crashed into Kaimana Bay, several hundred metres from the airport. Sampurno said the crash was believed to have been caused by bad weather, which limited visibility.

The passengers included an infant and two children, Ervan said.

Indonesia, an archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands and 235 million people, has been plagued by a string of transportation accidents in recent years, from plane and train crashes to ferry sinkings. Overcrowding, aging infrastructure and poor safety standards are often to blame.