Indonesia Crash Toll Hits 141; Plane Was Ancient

Air force chief: Some may have flown without permission
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2015 11:44 AM CDT
Indonesia Crash Toll Hits 141; Plane Was Ancient
Rescuers search for victims today at the site where an Indonesian air force transport plane crashed in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

The death toll has skyrocketed to 141 after an Indonesian military transport plane slammed into houses and a hotel in Medan yesterday. Though it initially wasn't clear how many people were on board the C-130B Hercules, officials now say it was carrying 122 passengers—including "maybe five to eight children," an official tells the Guardian—and 12 crew, meaning several were killed on the ground. Not all those on board were military personnel or relatives, who can fly with special permission. A woman tells Reuters her brother, a civilian, bought a ticket for the flight from Medan to the Riau Islands. The air force chief says no one should have been asked to pay. "What we fear is that there may be certain people offering to take passengers on board without permission, that is what we are investigating," he says.

Meanwhile, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has called for a thorough investigation after smoke was seen billowing from the plane before the crash. He also promises "an evaluation of the age of planes and defense systems" in the country, adding, "Hopefully, we can stay away from disasters." Vice President Jusuf Kalla tells the Jakarta Post the plane "was an old aircraft, already 50 years, but it was about to undergo a retrofit." It was built in the US in 1964. "This incident shows us that we must renew our aircraft and our military equipment," adds a lawmaker and member of the parliamentary commission for defense. "As parliament we will support giving more funding to the military so that they can upgrade." The Aviation Safety Network notes 10 fatal plane crashes over the last decade have involved Indonesian military or police aircraft. (Read more Indonesia stories.)

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