Search for Missing Plane in Papua Resumes

According to the Kompas daily, a plane lost contact on Sunday while flying from Sentani airport in Jayapura, the capital city of Indonesia's Papua province, to Oksibil, the capital city of Pegunungan Bintang regency.

The Twin Otter plane, belonging to the national flight carrier Merparti Nusantara Airways, was estimated to have lost contact in 100 nautical miles from Sentani. The plane carried 13 passengers and three crews.

The victims' families have arrived at Sentani airport to seek certainty of their destiny. However, until Sunday evening they still got no news. Merpati was still trying to contact the lost plane via radio, Xinhua reports.

Two rescue aircraft took off on Monday to begin the seach after bad weather had earlier hampered efforts to begin a hunt for the missing plane.

The aircraft which was carrying enough fuel for three-and-a-half hours flying is believed to have crashed, although no wreckage has been spotted.

"We're focusing our search on the border between Kerom and Pegunungan Bintang istricts... it's a mountainous, jungly region," Suwandi Miharja, the air force commander overseeing the search, told the AFP news agency, reports.

Crashes are not uncommon in Papua province where light aircraft, must navigate soaring mountains covered with impenetrable jungle. Some missing planes have never been found.

Indonesia 's airline industry has come under scrutiny in recent years after a series of crashes of both commercial and military aircraft in which hundreds of people have died.

Last month, the European Union lifted a two-year ban on travel in its airspace for the national carrier Garuda and three other commercial airlines.

Merpati Nusantara is one of a handful of Indonesian operators that remain banned from entering European airspace, Voice of America reports.