Australian officials said Tuesday a passenger plane carrying 13 people including nine Australians is missing feared crashed over Papua New Guinea.
The 20-seater Twin Otter craft disappeared at 10:53 am (2353 GMT) en route to popular tourist destination Kokoda after taking off from the South Pacific nation's capital Port Moresby.
Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said officials in Port Moresby were doing everything they could to find the plane but added weather conditions were making the search "very difficult."
"A search is now underway for the aircraft. I am advised that weather conditions are making that search very difficult. That search includes checks of other airfields in the vicinity," Smith told parliament in Canberra, AFP reports.
"As time passes it looks more (likely) that it will be an accident," said airline official Allen Tyson, Inquirer.net reports.
Meanwhile, no names of the Australians have been released while the families are being contacted, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The aircraft to command and control troops in the event of a nuclear war is being built on the basis of the new wide-body Ilyushin Il-96-400M