Timika, Papua (ANTARA) - The search operation to trace a DHC6-400 Twin Otter aircraft, bearing registration number PK CDC, which had disappeared in Papua Province since September 18, was continued, Saturday afternoon, by involving an aircraft and three helicopters.
A Twin Otter aircraft, with registration number PK-CDJ, carrying 10 members of a joint search and rescue team, took off from the Mozes Kilangin Airport in Timika at 2:38 p.m. local time to monitor a suspected area where the ill-fated aircraft had lost contact on Wednesday.
The National Search and Rescue Agency's command post at Mozes Kilangin Airport confirmed that three helicopters had backed up the search operation. Each of them is owned by PT Carpediem, PT Freeport Indonesia, and the Indonesian Air Force.
In accordance with the plan, the pilots of PT Carpediem's PK-CDA helicopter will drop two local residents and several SAR team members in Hoeya Village to enable them to prepare for a ground search operation.
Related news: Twin Otter aircraft still missing: SAR
Head of the Timika SAR Agency Monce Brury stated that the SAR team members had, in fact, conducted two sorties on Saturday morning but their efforts were impaired by the fog-blanketed sky and heavy rain.
Owing to this weather condition, the Susi Air aircraft, with registration number PK-VVZ, used for this search operation around the areas of Timika, Wangbei, and Jila, should return to the airport, he noted.
In connection with this search mission, state-owned air navigation firm Airnav Indonesia's authority in Sentani, Papua Province, has vowed to lend assistance in the efforts to trace the missing aircraft.
Airnav Indonesia-Sentani Office's General Manager Suwandi had earlier confirmed that the search and rescue operation was assisted by several aircraft taking off from Timika, the capital city of Mimika District.
However, Papua Province's geographical conditions posed a challenge for the SAR team members.
"We all need to pray for those on board this ill-fated aircraft and their families. May the Almighty God also save the SAR team members and ensure good weather during their search, so that it leads them to find those onboard alive," Suwandi stated.
The aircraft, carrying onboard nearly 1.6 tons of the State Logistics Agency's (Bulog's) rice, disappeared after taking off from the Moses Kilangain Airport in Timika, Mimika District, en route to Ilaga, the capital of Puncak District in Papua Province.
Related news: Airnav Indonesia pledges assistance to locate missing Twin Otter
Related news: Thick fog blanket in Papua impairs efforts to find aircraft
EDITED BY INE