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Death toll rises to 122 in Indonesia transport plane crash

Updated: 01 Jul 2015
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The plane ploughed into the newly built residential area, causing a huge fireball


The bodies were taken to the Adam Malik hospital in Medan, where relatives waited to collect them
    
Indonesian officials say 122 people are now known to have been on board a military transport plane which crashed in a residential area of Medan. 
 
No-one is believed to have survived after the Hercules C-130 plane hit houses and a hotel before bursting into flames on Tuesday. 
 
Officials have removed 130 body bags, indicating some people on the ground also died. 
 
Many of the victims are thought to have been relatives of servicemen and women. 
 
The BBC's Alice Budisatrijo in Jakarta says the military has repeatedly revised the passenger list, a sign of how loosely the military keeps track of who gets on its planes. 
 
It is also investigating whether some of those on board were paying passengers which is not permitted, she adds.
      
Air Force spokesman Dwi Badarmanto told the BBC that the 122 passengers included 12 crew members. 
 
The cause of the crash is not yet known, but witnesses said the plane appeared to run into trouble shortly after taking off from Medan - Indonesia's third largest city - for Tanjung Pinang, an island off Sumatra. 
 
"It passed overhead a few times, really low," a witness named Elfrida Efi told the Reuters news agency. 
 
"There was fire and black smoke. The third time it came by it crashed into the roof of the hotel and exploded straight away."
 
Air Force head Agus Supriatna said on Tuesday that the pilot had asked to return to base because of technical difficulties. 
 
"The plane crashed while it was turning right to return to the airport,'' he said. 
 
President Joko Widodo used Twitter to send his condolences to the families, wishing them "patience and strength". 
 
History of crashes 
 
The Hercules transport plane was manufactured in 1964, but a military spokesman said he was convinced that it was in good condition. 
 
This is the fourth crash involving the military in three years, says our correspondent, and many Indonesians are demanding an upgrade of its mostly outdated defence equipment. 
 
It is also the second time in 10 years that a plane has crashed in Medan. 
 
In September 2005, a Boeing 737 came down in a crowded residential area shortly after take-off from Medan's Polonia airport, killing 143 people including 30 on the ground.
  
SOURCE: BBC
 
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