The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian Military has found the bodies of 12 victims who had flown on board an Mi-17 Army helicopter that disappeared in June last year, shortly after taking off from an airport in the district of Oksibil in Pegunungan Bintang regency in Papua.
A recovery team from the Banteng Raider Infantry Battalion (Yonif Raider) of the Cendrawasih Military Command (Kodam) in Papua managed to reach the location at around noon on Friday and found the bodies among the wreckage.
Military Resort Command (Korem) 172/PVY commander Kol. Binsar Sianipar, who was the recovery team coordinator, said the team arrived at the location of the wreckage after hiking for about five hours from a base camp they built on Thursday.
“We could identify nine bodies from their clothes and attributes, while the remaining three still require further identification,” said Binsar in a media statement released by the Cendrawasih Kodam.
Binsar said that all 12 bodies would undergo an identification check from the medical team. Given the bad weather and difficult terrain, however, the team was not able to recover the bodies immediately.
“We plan to start the recovery process tomorrow [Saturday]. The team will bring the bodies down to a point that can be reached by our helicopters,” Binsar added.
The MI-17 helicopter owned by the Army went missing on June 28, 2019, at 11:49 a.m. It was carrying 12 people, including the crew, and went missing while flying to Okbibab from Oksibil to deliver supplies to soldiers stationed there.
Read also: Army helicopter goes missing in Papua
Binsar said the Cendrawasih Kodam commanders and soldiers expressed their deepest condolences to the families of the soldiers who died had died while carrying out a noble duty in Papua.
Cendrawasih Kodam commander Maj. Gen. Herman Asaribab said he applauded all parties who had assisted the process of finding the MI-17 helicopter and were set to recover the victims’ bodies.
“Today, we should be grateful for the discovery of the 12 bodies of the MI-17 victims who were declared missing in June last year,” Herman told journalists in Jayapura on Friday.
He also thanked Pegunungan Bintang regent Costan Oktemka and all local officials, as well as the regency’s community and religious leaders, particularly those in Oksop district, for their help and cooperation prior to the discovery of the victims.
In particular, Herman expressed pride and respect for the soldiers who had worked tirelessly in planning, preparing and carrying out the search and rescue (SAR) mission in the difficult terrain.
“Due to the extreme terrain, what the soldiers did was not easy. In fact, this task risked their safety. I am very proud of the dedication of the soldiers involved in this mission,” he said.
Herman added that the recovery of the bodies would start on Saturday when two Bell 212 helicopters from the Army’s Aviation Center (Penerbad) and PT Intan Angkasa would be deployed. (syk)