Plane crash in Indonesia kills at least 15

A Chinese-made twin turboprop crashes amid bad weather on its final runway approach in Indonesia's West Papua province, killing at least 15 of the 27 people aboard.
Indonesian air carriers have suffered a spate of disasters in recent years. In April 2010, the Merpati Airlines 737 seen here skidded off the runway while landing in the West Papua city of Manokwari, injuring 70 people. (Abdul Muin Salewe/AFP/Getty Images)

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.