62 bodies from Medan plane crash identified

62 bodies from Medan plane crash identified
Grim task: Relatives searching for missing family members check body bags containing the remains of victims of the crashed Air Force Hercules C-130 aircraft at Adam Malik General Hospital in Medan, North Sumatra on Wednesday. Sixty two of the victims of the crash had been identified as of Wednesday afternoon.
PHOTO: Jakarta Post/ANN

North Sumatra Police have identified the bodies of 62 victims of the crashed Hercules C130 in Medan as the death toll reached 142 on Wednesday.

North Sumatra Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Helfi Assegaf said that 41 of the identified victims had been brought by their families from the Adam Malik Hospital. "Of those identified, 31 are Air Force personnel, six army officers and 25 civilians," he said.

Tens of unidentified bodies were still at the hospital as of 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Some of them were laid on the terrace of the morgue to aid families in identifying them.

A family member of one of the victims, Iqbal, said he was still searching for his younger brother Rizaldi, a construction worker who was painting the BS Oukup spa parlour when the building was hit by the crashed plane.

"I found his jacket and motorcycle at the accident scene, but still can't find his body. I haven't received permission to access the morgue," Iqbal said.

Around 100 despairing relatives gathered at the hospital morgue where coffins were stacked up waiting to receive the bodies of crash victims.

Claims emerged that civilian passengers other than air force personnel were on the plane and had paid money to travel.

Mikael Asak, the uncle of teenage sisters Esther Yosephine and Rita Yunita, who were killed on the flight, told AFP that he had paid military staff at the airport Rp 1.4 million (US$105) for his nieces to travel on the 51-year-old plane. They had been travelling to visit their army officer father in the remote Natuna Islands.

The armed forces are not supposed to accept payments to transport people on their planes, although it is common for civilians to travel on air force aircraft to remote parts of the country, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.

Air Force chief Marshal Agus Supriatna promised Wednesday to investigate whether the aging transport plane was violating rules by carrying non-military personnel who had paid for the flight.

The plane set off from Jakarta and had been due to travel on from Medan to Bintan island in Riau and the Natuna Islands.

Tuesday's accident was the sixth deadly crash involving an Indonesian air force plane in the past decade, according to the Aviation Safety Network, and prompted President Joko Widodo to call for modernization of the military's ageing equipment.

It is not clear what caused Tuesday's crash but the aircraft asked to turn back just after take-off and the air force has said it may have suffered engine trouble.


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