Chopper crashes, 13 dead
The Jakarta Post
Thirteen people were killed when an Army Mi-17 helicopter crashed in an isolated area bordering Malaysia in Malinau regency, North Kalimantan, on Saturday. There are reported to be six survivors.
The Russian-made medium helicopter took off from Juwata Airport in Tarakan city heading to Malinau but lost contact at around 11:45 a.m. local time (10:45 a.m. Jakarta time). Later it was learned the helicopter had crashed near the Malinau-Serawak border guard post in Malinau regency.
The helicopter was carrying 10 civilian construction workers who were on their way to work on the guard post.
Kodam (military command) VI/Mulawarman chief, Maj. Gen. Dicky Wainal Usman immediately went to Tarakan to lead the search and rescue operation.
Meanwhile, Kodam VI/Mulawarman chief spokesman, Col. W R Jatmiko, who also went to Tarakan, told Antara news agency that five Army personnel and eight civilians had perished in the accident.
The dead Army personnel were named as flight engineer Capt. Wahyu Ramdan, pilot First Lt. Agung Budiarjo and First Lt. Rohmat from the Army Aviation Center and Capt. Sardi from Kodam VI/Mulawarman's combat engineering unit, the other military fatality was named as Chief Sgt. Aan.
Legowo identified the eight dead civilians as Desi and Wahyu from Tarakan city and six residents of Apaoping village: Bilung Lengkang, Lingling, Asun, Sam, Gring Bilung and Hirodis.
The six survivors comprised two Army personnel and four civilians.
'The survivors, who suffered burn injuries, have been evacuated to the Tarakan Naval Hospital,' he said when contacted from Samarinda.
Regarding the removal of the bodies of the dead victims, Legowo said it could not be done on Saturday due to a limited number of helicopters and the fading light. The operation to remove the bodies will resume on Sunday.
Legowo said the helicopter crashed in thick jungle amid strong winds.
The East Kalimantan Police chief spokesman, Sr. Comr. Fajar Setiawan said the ill-fated helicopter took off from Tarakan city at about 10 a.m. local time, initially with six passengers of whom three were civilians.
'The helicopter then landed at Apauping village to take another 10 residents who were to help in the construction of the Malinau-Sarawak border guard post'. Fajar told Antara from Samarinda.
The helicopter left the village at about 10:20 a.m local time carrying 19 people on board, including three crew, and logistics heading to the Malinau-Serawak border.
'The distance between the village and the post is very far and could only be reached in three days if attempted overland,' said Fajar. 'Therefore, logistics supply has to be carried out by air.'
The helicopter crashed near the post's soccer field as it was about to land.
Earlier, Indonesian Military (TNI) chief spokesman, Rear Adm. Iskandar Sitompul confirmed the helicopter had crashed and, based on initial investigations, it was suspected the helicopter had suffered a power loss.
'The helicopter was heading to its destination when it suffered a sudden power loss causing it to crash and burst into flames,' he told Antara in Jakarta.
Iskandar said the helicopter was relatively new, being between two and three years old. There have already been two serious incidents involving Mi-17s this year.
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