17 survivors in Indonesia plane crash official said

Seventeen of 117 people on board of a Boeing 737-200 which crashed at a residential area in Medan, capital of North Sumatra province of Indonesia, survived from the disaster, a local official told Xinhua by telephone.

See photo report of the accident

"There are 117 people on board, 17 of them survived," said Edy Sofyan a spokesman of the provincial government.

He said that the survivors were hospitalized in a local hospital of Adam Malik.

Mandala's director Asril Tanjung said the cause of the tragedy was being investigated.

The plane was carrying 112 passengers and five crews, reports Xinhua.

According to USA Today, Transportation Minister Hatta Rajasa was quoted by the private Detik.com news Web site as saying 47 people on the ground were killed.

City hospitals also were treating at least a dozen residents, officials said.

Many of the flight's survivors were sitting in the back of the plane, passenger Rohadi Sitepu said.

"The plane was taking off, but suddenly there was a strong tremor and it jerked to the left and crashed," he told Metro TV from his hospital bed. "There was fire everywhere, from the front of the plane to the back."

Witnesses said the plane started shaking violently when it reached an altitude of about 100 yards before banking to the left and plunging to the ground.

"I saw at least 20 people running around with their clothes alight," said Awi, a shop owner. "They were shrieking in agony and shouting, 'Help! Help!'"

The cause of the crash was under investigation, but foul play was highly unlikely, said airline managing director Asril Tanjung.

Photo: the AP

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