No survivors found from plane crash


A rescue team found no survivors but several bodies today when it arrived at the wreckage of a Russian plane that crashed into an Indonesian mountain during an exhibition flight with 45 people on board.

A rescue team found several bodies but no survivors today in the wreckage of a Russian plane that crashed into a mountain in Indonesia during an exhibition flight with 45 people on board.

Russia said it would take part in the investigation of the crash of its first all-new passenger jet since the fall of the Soviet Union, a Superjet 100 aircraft that went missing yesterday about 60km south of Jakarta.

It was carrying Indonesians including journalists and businessmen, eight Russians including embassy officials, pilots and technicians, as well as two Italians, one French citizen and one American, said Vladimir Prisyazhnyuk, the head of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft.

"We haven't found survivors," Gagah Prakoso, spokesman of the search and rescue team, told Indonesia's Metro TV.

Radio contact with the aircraft was lost at about 9am (Irish time) yesterday after it descended to 1,800m near Mount Salak, which rises to 2,200m above sea level, a rescue official said.

</p> <p>A rescue helicopter spotted debris on the side of the dormant Mount Salak volcano today, sending teams on a trek across steep and heavily forested terrain to reach the site.</p> <p>A picture taken from the helicopter appeared to show that the plane hit the top of a wall of rock. Small pieces of white debris could be seen scattered down an exposed stretch of cliff.</p> <p>The cause of the crash was not known.</p> <p>"The airplane crashed at the edge of Salak mountain ... An investigation must be done immediately and thoroughly," Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said.</p> <p>President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian representatives to take part in the investigation, offering his "profound condolences" in a statement on the Kremlin's website.</p> <p>A senior Russian official suggested the crash was caused by pilot error rather than a technical failure. The plane was Russia's flagship jet and Moscow will hope the crash will not reduce confidence in its civilian aircraft industry.</p> <p>"Experts are saying that the plane has been working impeccably well and that possibly it was human error," deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin told reporters while travelling with Mr Putin in Nizhny Tagil in Russia's Ural mountains.</p> <p>He called the superjet a "reliable, competitive machine."</p> <p>Superjet International, the Italian-led venture responsible for marketing the plane to the West, said on its website that Sukhoi's chief civil test pilot Alexander Yablontsev and his co-pilot Alexander Kochetkov had been flying the plane.</p> <p>Mr Yablontsev had accumulated 10,000 flight hours and commanded the Superjet on its maiden flight in 2008.</p> <p>The aircraft made two demonstration flights yesterday.</p> <p>It returned to Halim Perdanakusuma airport, east of Jakarta, after the first flight where some people got off because it was time for Muslim prayers and were left behind, according to Mr Sunaryo from Sukhoi's Indonesian agent PT Trimarga Rekatama.</p> <p>Others who had not planned to fly got on board.</p> <p>The crash was 45 years after a Dutch-built Fokker F-27 flew into a hill in the Philippines on a promotional sortie due to probable pilot error, said the Flight Safety Foundation.</p> <p>"There have been losses on demonstration flights and they are not generally the fault of the airplane. But without more information it is impossible to know the circumstances here," said Paul Hayes, safety director at aviation consultancy Ascend.</p> <p>Sukhoi, which has orders for 170 planes worldwide, plans to produce up to 1,000 Superjets, primarily for foreign markets.</p> <p><strong>Reuters</strong></p>