At least 236 feared dead in Indonesian plane crash
September 26, 1997
Web posted at: 8:48 a.m. EDT (1248 GMT)
JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Rescue crews combed a
mountainside Friday in northern Sumatra as they searched for
survivors of a plane crash that occurred as the aircraft was
preparing to land in thick haze from hundreds of forest fires
At least 236 people aboard the Indonesian Garuda Airlines A-300 Airbus
were feared dead. The plane that was flying from Jakarta went
down early Friday afternoon about 15 minutes before it was
due to land at Medan, a major commodities and trading center.
The plane crashed about 20 (32 km) miles from the airport.
"We are afraid there are no survivors," one official said.
There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash, and
authorities were not sure what role, if any, the smog may
have had. An airport official in Medan said a thick haze had
covered the airport for the last two days.
One official said, "It's probably the haze, but we're not
Some of the worst fires in Indonesia have been smoldering across Sumatra
for months, and several airports in other cities on the
island, and elsewhere in the country, were closed Friday
because of poor visibility.
In parts of Sumatra Thursday, visibility was down to less
than 100 yards (meters).
Airport sources said Flight GA-152 lost contact with the
Medan control tower at about 1:30 p.m. (0530 GMT/ 1:30 a.m.
EDT). Rescue officials said the plane went down near the
village of Buah Nabar in the Sibolangit district south of
A L S O :
Officials said there were 222 passengers, including one child,
and between 14 and 16 crew members on the flight. Most of those on
board were believed to be Indonesians, but the plane was
also carrying American, Dutch and Japanese passengers.
Sumatra is an Indonesian island divided into two almost equal
parts by the equator. The southeastern Asian country of
Indonesia is an archipelago of about 17,500 islands.
Bush fires across Sumatra island and Kalimantan have sent a
choking, health-threatening haze across neighboring
Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. The smoke has also drifted as
far as the southern Philippines and parts of Thailand,
including the resort area of Phuket.