South African dead in Indonesia plane crash

2012-04-26 06:50

Jakarta – A South African pilot and his Australian passenger were killed when their Susi Air plane crashed in eastern Indonesia, officials said today, in the airline’s third fatal accident in a year.

They were the only people on board the Pilatus PC-6 aircraft, which was carrying the Australian photographer on a chartered flight, the airline’s operations director Christian Strombeck told AFP.

“The pilot was South African and the photographer was Australian. Both were killed,” he said.

“The plane crashed Wednesday at around 5.30pm local time, and the bodies were found at around 1.30am Thursday,” he said.

Another official had initially said the plane crashed at 1.30am.

“The Pilatus PC-6 aircraft was flying in East Kalimantan to do some aerial photography when it crashed,” Strombeck added.

The plane went down near a village in the Kutai Kartanegara district, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, told AFP.

“The aircraft crashed at the edge of a ravine,” he said.

Susi Air is a small domestic airline that operates mostly Cessna Grand Caravan planes usually configured to carry 12 passengers and two pilots. It also operates a few smaller Pilatus aircraft.

In November, one of the company’s Cessna aircraft crashed while trying to land in Indonesia’s remote Papua region, killing a Spanish pilot.

Another of its aircraft crashed in September in Papua province, killing an Australian and Slovakian pilot.

The Indonesian archipelago of more than 17 000 island relies on air transport to reach remote areas and has a poor aviation safety record.

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